- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
- Citing a senior administration official, The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump ordered US military leaders on Tuesday to prepare to withdraw from Syria.
- Trump also said that US troops training local forces in areas liberated from the terrorist group ISIS could stay and that other Arab nations needed to help with reconstruction, according to The Post.
President Donald Trump ordered US military leaders on Tuesday to prepare to withdraw from Syria, The Washington Post reported, citing a senior administration official.
Trump did not set a date for withdrawal but said during a meeting with top national-security officials that some US troops training local forces in areas liberated from the terrorist group ISIS would stay, the Post report said.
“The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Wednesday.
“The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated. We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans. We expect countries in the region and beyond, plus the United Nations, to work toward peace and ensure that ISIS never reemerges.”
It remains unclear exactly how this would unfold and how many of the approximately 2,000 US troops in Syria would return, given that one of their main objectives was training Syrian Democratic Forces fighters instrumental in the defeat of ISIS.
Trump also said that the US troops’ mission would not go beyond the defeat of ISIS and that other Arab nations would need to help with reconstruction, according to The Post.
“Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision, and I said, ‘Well, you know, you want us to stay – maybe you’re going to have to pay,'” Trump said in a speech on Tuesday.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told reporters Wednesday that top national-security officials had an “all hands on deck” meeting on Tuesday.
Trump said Tuesday that he expected to decide “very quickly” whether to remove US troops from war-torn Syria, saying that their primary mission was to defeat ISIS and that “we’ve almost completed that task.”
Trump’s comments contrast with the views of his top military advisers, some of whom spoke at a separate event in Washington about the need to stay in Iraq and Syria in part to defeat the terrorist group that once controlled large swaths of territory in both countries.