Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Pentagon Is Reportedly Preparing To Withdraw All US Troops From Syria
The United States is preparing to rapidly withdraw all 2,000 troops in northeastern Syria as soon as Kurdish and Arab forces drive ISIS from its last enclave, President Trump announced on Wednesday.
- In a brief video posted on Twitter, the president declared victory against ISIS and said it is time to bring U.S. troops home.
- “I get very saddened when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country,” Trump said. “It’s a great honor; we cherish them; but it’s heart-breaking.”
- The president repeated that ISIS has been defeated thanks to the sacrifices of fallen troops. “We won, and that’s the way we want it,” Trump said as he pointed toward heaven, “and that’s the way they want it.”
- Top Trump administration officials decided on Tuesday that all U.S. troops would leave Syria, according to the Washington Post, which cited an unnamed defense official. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the troop withdrawal.
- President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the U.S. military's mission in Syria has been accomplished: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
- White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders issued announced in a statement on Wednesday that U.S. troops in Syria have already begun redeploying: “Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate. These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the global coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.
- “The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders.”
- Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed on Wednesday that U.S. military has begun to draw down its forces in Syria.
- “The coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over,” White said. “We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign.
- “For force protection and operational security reasons we will not provide further details. We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates.”
- In August, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that U.S. troops would remain in Syria until diplomatic efforts to peacefully end that country’s civil war showed progress.
- “We need the Geneva process, the U.N.-recognized process to start making traction towards solving this war,” Mattis told reporters at an Aug. 28 news briefing. “Now, if the locals are able to keep the security, obviously during this time we might be reducing our troops commensurate with their ability to deny ISIS a return, but it really comes down to finding a way to solve this problem of [Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s] making.”
- News about the pending departure of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria comes amid signs of a wider rapprochement between the United States and Turkey, which views Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists.
- The Defense Department has notified Congress that it has approved the sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey, which had been flirting with buying Russian S-400 missiles, and President Trump has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he will consider extraditing cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan blames for a 2016 coup.
SEE ALSO: US Military Says It Can’t Take Out Remaining ISIS Fighters Because They’re Hiding In Tunnels
UPDATE: This story was updated at 6:35 P.M. on Dec. 19 to include comments from President Trump.
As the US sends 1,000 more troops to Middle East, the Pentagon is a rudderless ship caught in a storm
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
While the U.S. government has publicly blamed Iran for recent attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Oman, not a single U.S. official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.
At an off-camera briefing on Monday, Navy officials acknowledged that nothing in imagery released by the Pentagon shows Iranian Revolutionary Guards planting limpet mines on ships in the Gulf of Oman.
Investigation shows Lt. Col. in charge of Corps' 1st Recon was fired for alleged 'misconduct' but has not been charged
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
A Marine Raider convicted in a North Carolina court of misdemeanor assault for punching his girlfriend won't spend any time in jail unless he violates the terms of his probation, a court official told Task & Purpose.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.