The US has sent the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship currently deployed in the Mediterranean, toward Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed defense officials.
The massive, Wasp-class vessel, capable of carrying over 1,800 troops and/or dozens of armored vehicles in its 13,600 square-foot well deck, was sent toward Syria along with other US Navy vessels to support the expected withdrawal, according to the newspaper.
The naval group will be complemented by hundreds of US Marines, along with armed helicopters, to protect troops while they leave the country, the WSJ’s sources reported.
“Nothing has changed. We don’t take orders from Bolton,” one of the officials said, in apparent reference to earlier reports that Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton has been discussing possible plans to keep a presence in Syria ‘to counter Iran’ in spite of the president’s orders.
Earlier, a US official speaking to the news agency AFP said that the Pentagon had begun withdrawing ‘non-essential equipment’ from the war-torn country, but that military personnel remain deployed.
President Trump announced that the US would withdraw its estimated 2,000 US troops from Syria on December 19, claiming their mission of defeating ISIL terror group had been completed and that bringing US military personnel home from wars in the Middle East would fulfil a campaign promise.