Trump call for quick withdrawal from Syria faced unanimous opposition from top officials: report
President Trump’s call to withdraw around 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria over the next five to six months was met with immediate pushback from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community, The Associated Press reports.
The AP cites five administration sources who say Trump brought up the idea at a White House meeting on Tuesday only to be met with near-unanimous opposition from aides who warned that pulling out would likely make it easier for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to regroup.
Trump was presented with two options, the AP reports: Several pages of documents supporting a White House plan to remain in Syria for the time being, with the goal of defeating ISIS in the region and countering Iranian and Russian influence, or a complete withdrawal. Trump chose the former.
When asked what the U.S. has achieved for lives lost in Syria, the president reportedly repeated “nothing” over and over, according to officials.
The White House said in a statement Wednesday that the war in Syria was coming to a “rapid end,” but declined to give more details on Trump’s plan to reduce troops in the region.
“I want to get out. I want to bring those troops home,” Trump said at a news conference with leaders from Baltic states earlier this week.
“Seven trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last 17 years, we get nothing out of it … except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing.”
A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the AP that Trump has been “very good” about not giving a timeline by which U.S. forces must vacate the country.
“The president has actually been very good in not giving us a specific timeline,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff. “We’ve always thought that as we reach finale against ISIS in Syria, we’re going to adjust the level of our presence there. So in that sense, nothing has actually changed.”
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