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Kurdish-led forces in Syria said they would complete the evacuation of thousands of civilians from Islamic State's last redoubt in the area on Friday, and welcomed a White House reversal of President Donald Trump's decision to pull out all US troops.
With Washington's allies poised for victory against Islamic State fighters who are making a final stand in a pocket near the Iraqi border, the White House announced plans on Thursday to keep "a small peacekeeping force" in Syria.
The announcement partially reversed Trump's abrupt decision in December to withdraw the entire 2,000-strong US contingent, which had alarmed Washington's Kurdish allies and prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to quit.
An administration official on Friday put the total number of troops to stay at 400, split between a safe zone being negotiated for northeastern Syria and a US military base at Tanf, near the border with Iraq and Jordan.
Although the US contingent would now be small, the official indicated that the 200 troops in the northeast would be part of a wider commitment of about 800-1,500 troops also drawn from European allies to set up and observe a safe zone.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Trump insisted that the decision to leave some US troops did not constitute a reversal of his December announcement.
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