The White House has confirmed US troops are being withdrawn from Syria, after President Donald Trump said the Islamic State (IS) group had been “defeated” there.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the US troops had already begun to return home, the BBC reports.

Some 2,000 troops have helped rid much of north-eastern Syria of IS, but pockets of fighters remain.

It is thought defence officials wanted to maintain a US presence to ensure IS did not rebuild.

There are also fears it will cede influence in Syria and the wider region to Russia and Iran.

The statement from Sanders said: “We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign”.

She did not give details of what that campaign might be, but said the US and its allies stood “ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support and any means of infiltrating our borders”.