Kurdish-led Syrian administration cheers Trump decision to leave troops in region

The Kurdish administration that oversees much of northern Syria applauded President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE’s decision to leave 200 troops in Syria after most forces are being pulled out of the country.

“We evaluate the White House decision ... positively,” Abdulkarim Omar, co-chairman of foreign relations for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told Reuters.


The White House announced the plans Thursday evening to keep a “small peacekeeping force” in Syria after the majority of the military’s 2,000-strong force was withdrawn.

“This decision may encourage other European states, particularly our partners in the international coalition against terrorism, to keep forces in the region,” Omar said.

“I believe that keeping a number of American troops and a larger number of [other] coalition troops, with air protection, will play a role in securing stability and protecting the region, too.”

Trump’s declaration in December that he would completely pull the military out of Syria sparked bipartisan backlash and is widely believed to have resulted in the resignations of former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' US could deploy 150 troops to Syria: report MORE and State Department envoy to coalition forces Brett McGurk. 

While politicians in the U.S. expressed concern a withdrawal would cede Syria’s fate to Russia and Iran, the SDF and allied Kurdish groups feared Turkey would use the opportunity to launch an offensive in the area. Ankara has long considered Kurdish groups in the region, including the militia that leads the SDF, to be terrorists.