Trump to decide ‘very quickly’ on US pullout from Syria

Trump to decide ‘very quickly’ on US pullout from Syria
  • 1
    Share

Washington: President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he expects to decide “very quickly” whether to remove US troops from war-torn Syria, saying their primary mission was to defeat Daesh and “we’ve almost completed that task.”
A decision by Trump to withdraw from Syria would conflict with the views of his top advisers.
In fact, as Trump addressed reporters at the White House, high-ranking US officials spoke elsewhere in Washington about the need to stay in Iraq and Syria to finish off the militant group, which once controlled large swaths of territory in both countries, and keep it from rising up again.
At a news conference with the presidents of the Baltic nations, Trump was asked whether he still favored pulling US troops out of Syria.
“As far as Syria is concerned, our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of ISIS,” Trump answered, using another acronym for Daesh. “We’ve completed that task and we’ll be making a decision very quickly, in coordination with others in the area, as to what we will do.”
The mission is “very costly for our country and it helps other countries a helluva lot more than it helps us,” Trump said.
“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation,” he said during the appearance with his counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Trump also noted that the Baltic states are partners with the US in the anti-Daesh coalition.
The main Daesh holdout in Syria is in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where momentum by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main component is the YPG, has stalled in recent weeks as many YPG members have shifted west to the Afrin area to fight Turkish forces.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in January to clear the Afrin enclave from the YPG, which had long been firing rockets into Turkish territory from the region.
The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is not only on Turkey’s terror list, but also on those of the US and the EU.
Pentagon officials have publicly raised the prospect of this giving Daesh the breathing room it needs to regroup.
Many have warned that a premature US withdrawal from Syria would cede the country to Iran and Russia, which have supported Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad. Iran’s continued presence in Syria is especially troubling to neighbouring Israel, a US ally that regards Iran as an existential threat.
Some high-ranking Trump administration officials urged caution.
Leone Lakhani is in Washington for more on what’s factoring into Trump’s decision, despite the military’s assessment.