Trump denies backtracking on Syria, even as withdrawal possibly delayed
President Trump on Monday said his plans to pull U.S. troops out of Syria are “no different” than originally announced, even though his administration has revised the withdrawal timeline amid concerns from allies and military leaders.
In a morning tweet, Trump blasted The New York Times for publishing “a very inaccurate story on my intentions for Syria.”
“No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!” he wrote.
The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2019
It is unclear exactly which story Trump is referring to, but the paper reported Sunday that national security adviser John Bolton “rolled back” Trump’s decision to “rapidly withdraw from Syria.”
Bolton is in Israel and Turkey on a trip that is widely perceived as a damage-control mission to reassure the region’s U.S. allies about the Syria withdrawal.
The national security adviser said U.S. forces would remain in Syria until the last of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is defeated and the administration secures a guarantee from Turkey that it will not attack Kurdish forces in Syria, who have been allied with the U.S.
When Trump first announced the withdrawal on Dec. 19, administration officials said he ordered troops to begin leaving Syria in 30 days and those preconditions were not attached.
“They’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won, and that’s the way we want it and that’s the way they want it,” Trump in a Twitter video about his decision.
The president also declared the U.S. had “defeated ISIS in Syria,” making the withdrawal possible because fighting the militant group was “my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
Trump later extended the timeline to four months, but Bolton’s conditions could delay the withdrawal for even longer.
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