President Donald Trump’s order to the Pentagon this weekend to withdraw nearly all of the 1,000 US troops from Syria has sparked an urgent effort at the highest levels of the Pentagon to ensure they can be brought out safely.
Several military and defense officials tell CNN that the evacuation is now the top priority for Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Specific details of the plan are being closely held, due to concerns about the security of the forces, especially for those left as the numbers dwindle in the coming days. An undisclosed number of US security forces will also go into Syria to help with security as had already been decided prior to the decision for a full withdrawal from the north.
Without specifically acknowledging the US withdrawal is taking place quickly because of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, Trump said in a statement Monday that US troops “coming out of Syria will now redeploy and remain in the region to monitor the situation and prevent a repeat of 2014, when the neglected threat of ISIS raged across Syria and Iraq. A small footprint of United States forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria to continue to disrupt remnants of ISIS. “
This leaves the Pentagon scrambling. According to multiple officials CNN has spoken to these steps are underway: