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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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.

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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evening to keep a “small peacekeeping force” in Syria after the majority of the military’s 2,000-strong force was withdrawn.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 MattisEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Five things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing 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.