US begins withdrawing troops from Syria


(JTA) — The United States has begun withdrawing its troops from Syria, according to a military spokesman.

The withdrawal comes as somewhat of a surprise, since John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, has said that any withdrawal of troops would be more gradual, and would depend on the military achieving some of its goals there.

Trump announced last month that the U.S. would withdraw its approximately 2,000 troops battling ISIS in Syria within 30 days. Bolton’s comments last week seemed to contradict the president.

Now it appears the withdrawal has officially begun, albeit with no fixed timetable, according to The New York Times.

Israel is against the withdrawal, as it would mean the exit of a close ally from Syria. It will also remove a check on other forces in the war-torn country, such as Iran and Hezbollah, that have both threatened Israel with attack.

Israel has called on the U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed. Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton have endorsed recognition as well.

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