Intel chief: White House has made decision on troops in Syria

Intel chief: White House has made decision on troops in Syria
© Greg Nash

The White House will release a statement “shortly” on its decision on whether to pull U.S. troops from Syria, the top U.S. intelligence chief said Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Hillicon Valley: Deepfakes pose 2020 test for media | States beg Congress for more election security funds | Experts worry campaigns falling short on cybersecurity | Trump officials urge reauthorization of NSA surveillance program MORE would not say what the decision was but that it had been reached Tuesday during a meeting of the National Security Council.

“I can’t go into the details of what was decided yesterday with our national security team and with the president. But there will be a released statement shortly, relative to the decision that was made,” Coats told reporters at a media breakfast in Washington.

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President Trump a day earlier indicated that he wants to pull U.S. troops from the war-torn country

"I want to get out. I want to bring those troops home,” Trump said at a news conference with leaders from the Baltic states.

But top military and State Department officials said the U.S. would continue to operate in Syria until the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is extinguished.

“There still are some areas where [ISIS] are present and that we will have to continue to operate on,” U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel said Tuesday at a U.S. Institute of Peace event in Washington.

Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, told the forum that “we are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission and our mission isn’t over, and we’re going to complete that mission.”

About 2,000 U.S. troops are in Syria, backing Kurdish fighters against ISIS. Some officials have said they fear that pulling U.S. forces out too soon could potentially allow an ISIS resurgence in the country.

When asked about Votel’s and McGurk’s assessments, Coats replied that the defense and intelligence community “have ongoing discussions relative to a whole range of issues.”

“A statement will be issued relatively soon, relative to that,” Coats added.