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Pompeo: Pulling US troops from Syria ‘in no way changes’ cooperation with Israel

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the United States would continue to work with Israel over Syria and in opposing Iran as the U.S. withdraws troops from the region. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who met with Pompeo in Brasília — said he planned to speak about ramping up intelligence and operations cooperation in Syria and the greater region to curtail Iranian “aggression.”

{mosads}The two were in Brazil’s capital Tuesday for the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s new president.

Pompeo, meanwhile, made his first public comments on President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, saying that it “in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel.” 

“The counter-ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue and our commitment to Middle East stability and the protection of Israel continues in the same way it did before that decision was made,” Pompeo said.

Trump abruptly announced last month that he planned to pull U.S. forces from Syria, claiming that they no longer needed to be there as they had completed their mission to defeat ISIS.

The decision — which Trump made without the consultation of national security officials, lawmakers or U.S. allies — was widely criticized and is credited with leading to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Trump will give the military about four months to withdraw troops from the war-torn nation after he initially ordered the troops to be withdrawn within 30 days, The New York Times reported Monday.

Netanyahu said the two countries “have a lot to discuss.”

“We’re going to be discussing our, the intense cooperation between Israel and the United States which will also deal with the questions following the decision, the American decision, on Syria and how to intensify even further our intelligence and operational cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian aggression in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said.

He added that Israel appreciated the “strong … unequivocal support” Pompeo gave Israel’s “efforts at self defense against Syria” in the last week. 

After Trump’s Syria announcement last month, Netanyahu said Israel would escalate its fight against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria once the U.S. military is out of the country.

Tags Donald Trump James Mattis Mike Pompeo
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