BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:40 P.M.) – The U.S. military withdrawal from Syria will be paused as soon as the number drops to 1,000 troops inside the country, the New York Times reported on Friday.
Citing officials speaking on condition of anonymity, the New York Times reported that the pause will be followed by an assessment of “conditions on the ground”.
The officials told NYT that further withdrawals will occur every six months or so until the number of U.S. military personnel in Syria reaches 400 troop limit.
Furthermore, the officials indicated that the withdrawal timetable will remain ‘fluid’ and contingent on several factors.
The NYT article indicated that the U.S. military may not reach the targeted 400 troop number until the Fall of 2020.
Some of these factors include the contribution of their European allies (France, UK et al.) and the potential implementation of a safe zone with Turkey.
However, the U.S. military may face some major obstacles over the next year, especially with Turkey’s insistence on launching an operation against the Kurdish-led and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara maintains that the SDF and People’s Protection Units (YPG) are terrorist entities that are merely offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who fought a long war against the Turkish military.
The U.S. has relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in northern and eastern Syria.
Ankara is pushing Washington to withdraw their forces from Syria and end their military support to the SDF in Syria.
Should Ankara get its way, this may push the SDF and their political wing, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), to seek assistance from Damascus in order to prevent a Turkish invasion.