4 things to know about Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria

US forces accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units fighters drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah on the border with Turkey

A White House official said that "U.S. forces will continue the fight against ISIS" and added that the US would also use "tools of national power, including economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure" to combat the influence of Iran in the region. "The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary", she said.

The Pentagon, however, sent out a statement at 9:29 a.m. that indicated a withdrawal of the approximately 2,000 USA troops in Syria may not be imminent.

The decision came after a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

All U.S. State Department personnel are being evacuated from Syria within 24 hours, a U.S. official told Reuters, after the White House said it had started withdrawing U.S. forces.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a journalist and senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations who has made frequent trips to Northern Syria over the past year, agrees with Meserole's assessment.

Islamic State declared its so-called "caliphate" in 2014 after seizing large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

The United States still has about 2,000 troops in Syria, many of them special operations forces working closely with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab groups known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.

CBS said it was told the White House had ordered the Pentagon to "begin planning for an immediate withdrawal".

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally of the US, Turkey has vehemently criticized Washington's support for the Kurds and recently Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan vowed to launch cross-border attacks on Kurdish fighters.

USA officials previously have telegraphed mixed messages on Syria.

The Trump administration is expected to withdraw all of the approximately 2,000 American troops from Syria.

Russian officials expressed cautious satisfaction with Trump's decision. The presence of USA troops has become "a risky obstacle" to peace in the country, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said before the news about the withdrawal broke on Wednesday.

Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria expert at the Institute for the Study of War, said the withdrawal is likely to create new problems.

Secretary Mattis continued to strongly insist that the USA must remain in Syria in perpetuity until ISIS is completely defeated, which is largely an impossible logistical task.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement likening the pending removal of the 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria to President Barack Obama's 2011 withdrawal from Iraq and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State, calling it "a huge Obama-like mistake".

Trump's decision immediately garnered criticism from hawks within his own party.

Any other policy, he said, would be "reckless".

But Tobias Ellwood, a British ministry of defense politician who reached the rank of captain in the royal army, quickly responded to Trump's tweet.

"We may see a new phase in the Syrian crisis in the coming days, and its features will be shown as Daesh is now limited to specific areas", he said, using another name for IS.

About a month ago, The New York Times reported on why the president had yet to visit troops in combat zones.

The policy of leaving USA troops in Syria as leverage against Iran and to ensure Syrian stability was first announced in early September by James Jeffrey, who Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed as special representative for "Syria Engagement".

The decision underscores the division between Trump and his military advisers, who have said in recent weeks that pockets of Isis militants remain and United States policy has been to keep troops in place until the group is eradicated. Syrian Kurds are hoping to establish an autonomous region similar to that in neighboring Iraq, Ankara wants to make sure that nothing similar happens in Turkey.

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