Israel and Jordan requested the U.S. to leave a residual force in Syria, President Donald Trump said Monday as American forces continue their withdrawal from the country.
The president did not specify the exact location where the countries requested U.S. forces to remain, but said it is in southern Syria "near Jordan, and close to Israel."
The closest area forces remain is a garrison near at-Tanf in southeastern Syria near the Iraqi border.
"That's a totally different section. That's a totally different mindset. So we have a small group there, and we secured the oil. Other than that, there's no reason for it, in our opinion," Trump said.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters over the weekend that Trump has approved keeping "some forces" in at-Tanf. He did not specify how many troops that might entail.
Trump has faced widespread backlash on Capitol Hill over his decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria. He defended the move, saying an agreement with Turkey to halt the hostilities "holding."
"The Kurds are moving out to safer areas beyond the safe zone," Trump said, referring to the YPG/PKK.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northeastern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
On Oct. 17, Turkey agreed to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington