White House says around 200 US troops to remain in Syria after pullout

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The US military will keep around 200 troops in Syria after President Donald Trump’s pullout from the war-torn country, the White House said Thursday.

“A small peace-keeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

The announcement comes amid fierce criticism of Trump’s decision to withdraw America’s 2,000 or so troops from Syria by April 30, with members of his own Republican Party blasting the move.

In December, Trump declared victory over ISIS in Syria, even though thousands of militants remain and fighting continues around their last holdout.

Critics have decried a number of possible outcomes from a precipitous withdrawal, including a Turkish attack on US-backed Kurdish forces and a resurgence of ISIS.

Sanders did not provide additional details, but the troops’ “peace-keeping” designation could pave the way for European allies to commit forces for such a mission.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan visited Europe last week where he attempted to convince allies to maintain a troop presence in Syria after the US pulls out. But he struggled to persuade other countries why they should risk their forces with America gone.

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was barring a US-born former ISIS propagandist from returning home from Syria, where the conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the diplomatic status of the father of Alabama woman Hoda Muthana means she is not a US citizen.

It came after a lawyer for the family of a teenager who fled London to join the jihadists when she was 15 said Britain was revoking her citizenship.

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