Syria (MNN) — President Trump recently announced that the United States will be pulling military support out of Syria once the last ISIS fighters in the nation are defeated.
Reports say he would like to withdraw all U.S. troops within six months.
Pulling Out of Syria
“The U.S. has about two thousand troops inside Syria, and the same day that he made this announcement, an American soldier lost his life, and a British soldier lost his life,” Tom Atema with Heart for Lebanon says.
“Two thousand forces in there is not a lot…. It’s significant even after that announcement because we have, as a government, have stopped our internal aid.”
President Trump pledged $200 million to help recovery efforts in Syria such as restoring roads, water, and electricity services, clearing landmines, and to help create stable political conditions.
However, President Trump has now frozen the pledge and is determined to pull troops out of Syria as quickly as possible and hand the support efforts to other nations. He recently asked Saudi Arabia to provide $4 billion to recovery efforts in Syria.
During his announcement, President Trump said he wanted to begin focusing efforts on the United States to start rebuilding the nation.
A Void Left Behind
“If we pull out, I think it will leave a void,” Atema says.
“I think that’s pretty much understood around the world. But what does that void mean and who will fill it? I don’t know what that void means, but I pretty much guarantee that the Russians will fill it and that will make them a little bit more of a world power, more prestigious in the realm and world because they’re siding with Iran, and China.”
Many are still cautious about removing the U.S. soldiers from Syria. The Washington Post reports the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, Israel, Arab leaders, and other parties are concerned about the ramifications once the U.S. pulls out.
Atema warns this will make conditions worse for citizens still inside Syria, which he says will cause an even larger upswing in refugees fleeing to other nations.
Further, there remains the threat that ISIS militants will return to parts of Syria where they were eradicated before.
“ISIS has been kicked out of this city, kicked out of this city, this village, out of this region, but there’s signs, very vibrant signs that ISIS is coming back in lieu of those cities, and villages, and regions. Just because they were kicked out doesn’t mean they are done,” Atema says.
The Church in Syria
He says it’s too early to know what this means for the Church.
“We don’t really have any direct protection over the Church in Syria. What our influence and presence brings, we’ll only find out if we withdraw from Syria,” Atema says.
Believers in Syria continue to face cultural persecution as well as persecution from ISIS militants. The country is no. 15 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, which ranks the 50 nations with the worst Christian persecution.
However, Atema says the Church is growing and believers have an opportunity to witness to those around them.
“One thing is for sure, that there’s never been a greater time inside Syria, or outside Syria, or any place where Muslims live that Muslims have been more open to the Gospel than today. And this is our harvest time, and we need to make hay while the sun shines.”
Atema encourages you to pray for believers, citizens in Syria, and world leaders.
“If there’s ever been a time that Americans need to pray for our government, and our officials, our President, and world leaders around the world, now’s the time. If you haven’t been doing it, now’s the time. If you have been doing it, now’s the time to step it up to more intensity.”
Stand strong with believers. Pray for their safety as they witness to others. Pray also that God would lead Muslims to choose Him as their savior. Finally, pray that world leaders will have wisdom on the actions they should take in Syria and for God’s will to be done.