WASHINGTON | White House says US will keep 200 troops in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says the U.S. is keeping 200 American troops in Syria as part of a small peacekeeping force.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that the small force will remain in Syria “for a period of time.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had harshly criticized Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria, is applauding the president’s decision to leave a small contingent of American forces in Syria as part of an “international stabilizing force.”

He says it will ensure that Turkey will not get into a conflict with U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces, which Ankara views as terrorists. Moreover, Graham says leaving a small force in Syria will help curb Iranian ambitions and ensure that Islamic State fighters do not try to return..

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By DEB RIECHMANN , Associated Press