US and Turkish military forces conduct ground patrol in north-east Syria
USA

US Troops Leaving Syria To 'Reposition' In Iraq

As many as 1,000 troops will go to Iraq to ensure the so-called Islamic State group does not see a resurgence in the area.

US and Turkish military forces conduct ground patrol in north-east Syria

US troops are evacuating the north of Syria, as Turkey invades the region (Picture: US Army).

Almost 1,000 US troops being pulled out of a hostile northern Syria will be redeployed to western Iraq, the US Defense Secretary has confirmed. 

US personnel are leaving the region, which is currently under a ceasefire between the Kurdish forces and the invading Turkish military.

"The current gameplan is for those forces to reposition into western Iraq", said Mark Esper, speaking to journalists on a flight to Afghanistan to discuss the future of the US there.

The Defense Secretary detailed "two missions" - to protect Iraq and to perform a "counter-ISIS mission".

There are currently around 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq, after deployment in 2014 to defeat the Islamic State group (IS).

Last week, amid heavy criticism of President Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria, the US House voted overwhelmingly against the call.

Mr Trump responded on Twitter, stating: "I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous & costly Endless Wars, and be scorned."

Rather than being brought home, troops will remain in the Middle East to ensure the so-called Islamic State group does not see a resurgence in the area.

US officials are discussing an option that would keep a small residual military force in north-east Syria to secure oil fields and continue the fight against IS.

Mr Esper said he had not made a final decision on that option and has not yet presented it to President Donald Trump, but that some US troops yet to depart Syria are working alongside Kurdish fighters to secure oil fields in the region  - keeping them from IS control. 

President Trump stated earlier this year that troops in Iraq will remain there to "watch Iran", amid growing tensions between the Middle Eastern country and the west. 

Turkey's offensive into northern Syria started on 9 October, with plans to create a 20-mile-deep "safe-zone" along Syria's northeastern border, free from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which Turkey considers terrorists. 

Kurdish forces are now leaving the contested border town of Ras al-Ain - as agreed in the five-day, US-brokered ceasefire deal.