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US to withdraw over 400 marines from Syria

The anti-IS coalition described the withdrawal as a sign of "real progress" [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 December, 2017

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The international coalition fighting IS hails plans for a US troop withdrawal as a sign of 'progress' as operations around Raqqa wind down.

The United States is set to withdraw more than 400 marines from Syria after the city of Raqqa was successfully captured  from the Islamic State group in October, coalition officials said on Thursday.

The US-led coalition fighting IS described the planned withdrawal as a "sign of real progress".

"We're drawing down combat forces where it makes sense, but still continuing our efforts to help Syrian and Iraqi partners maintain security," Brig-Gen Jonathan Braga, director of operations for the international coalition, said in a statement.

The US deployed marine units in March to provide artillery support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel group made up of Arab and Kurdish fighters.

The presence of the marines significantly bolstered the impact of US-led operations in the area, which includes aerial support.

According to the Defense Manpower Data Center's most recent quarterly report, there are currently 1,723 US Marines stationed in Syria.

A statement on Monday by the Pentagon seemed to contradict this figure, placing the number far lower at 503.

Although the IS group has lost its so-called "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, many analysts have warned that the threat posed by the militants remains.

Experts, including European Union counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, have highlighted the fact that there hasn't been a massive flow of IS fighters returning to Europe from the Iraq and Syria.

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