Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani met in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss the conflict. They differ in their approaches but are united in one desire – they all want US forces out of Syria
Donald Trump has decided to keep US forces in Syria for a limited period, ending speculation about an immediate pull-out fuelled by the president himself. He agreed at a National Security Council meeting that the 2,000 US troops backed by massive airpower should stay in Syria where they support the Kurds in the east of the country.
“We’re not going to immediately withdraw, but neither is the president willing to back a long-term commitment,” said a senior administration official. He added that Mr Trump wanted to ensure the final defeat of Isis and would like other countries to help stabilise Syria.
The White House said later that its military mission to eradicate Isis in Syria “is coming to a rapid end”.
In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal, just as senior generals were reiterating their commitment to stand by the Syrian Kurdish forces, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). These hold between 25 and 30 per cent of Syria and are the only US ally in the country. Isis has lost almost all its territory but is reverting to guerrilla warfare in parts of eastern Syria. Its fighters have been emboldened by the withdrawal of YPG forces, which have gone to confront the Turkish-led invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.