Trump Vows Quick Exit From Syria

Elias Hubbard
April 4, 2018

U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel said "well over 90 percent" of land once held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been liberated, particularly in the north and eastern portions of the country, but that the military must maintain its presence there.

"I want to get out".

"By the way, we're knocking the hell out of ISIS", Trump told a crowd in OH during a speech on infrastructure spending. Even as top U.S. military officials quietly prepare plans that would actually increase the number of United States troops deployed to Syria, Trump has decided that the time has come to cut an early exit, according to people familiar with the situation. "And we'll be making a decision very quickly in coordination with others in the area as to what we'll do".

Speaking alongside Votel, Brett McGurk, the State Department's special envoy to the global coalition to defeat ISIS, agreed that "ISIS is not finished".

In another indication of Trump's skepticism over USA involvement in Syria, the president late last month ordered the State Department to freeze $200 million in funds to help recovery efforts in the war-torn country.

In contrast, Defense Secretary James Mattis and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have said repeatedly that those troops will remain and the civilian presence will increase as the US works to prevent a new terror group from forming.

"Of course there is a military role in this, certainly in the stabilization phase", he added.

Special operations forces have been in the Manbij area recently looking for ISIS operatives that may have fled to the area, one official told CNN. "That is our mission and our mission isn't over and we are going to complete that mission", McGurk said.

"Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision".

The United States is waging near-daily air strikes in Syria and has deployed about 2,000 troops on the ground, including USA special operations forces whose advising has helped Kurdish militia and other US-backed fighters capture territory from Daesh.

Trump, who met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman two weeks ago and spoke by telephone Monday with his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, prodded the kingdom to do more.

"The president has been very clear to us that everything we're doing has to constantly be reviewed and looked at", McGurk said.

Tillerson argued United States forces must remain engaged in Syria to prevent IS and Al-Qaeda from returning and to deny Iran a chance to "further strengthen its position in Syria". He said that no final decision has been made, however.

McGurk acknowledged a review was underway to ensure USA taxpayer dollars were well spent.

"This really would contradict President Trup's goal of countering Iran in the Middle East", Nader said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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