Trump gives no timetable for Syria exit

Orient Net 2019-01-03 08:05:00

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US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (Jan. 3) the United States would get out of Syria slowly “over a period of time” and would protect the US-backed Kurdish militiamen in the country as Washington draws down troops.

Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or US allies participating in anti-ISIS operations.

The decision prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign. Trump said on Wednesday he had essentially fired Mattis, whose letter of resignation was seen as a sharp rebuke to the Republican president.

During a Cabinet meeting at the White House in front of reporters, Trump said he had never set a reported four-month timetable for the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria amid a battle against ISIS.

“We’re getting out and we’re getting out smart,” Trump said. “I never said I’m getting out tomorrow.” He declined to be specific about how long troops would remain in Syria.

US commanders planning the US withdrawal are recommending that YPG militiamen battling ISIS be allowed to keep US-supplied weapons, according to US officials.

Trump has been critical of previous administrations for sending and keeping US troops abroad, and has made bringing troops home part of his signature “America First” policy as he eyes a re-election bid in 2020.

Based on Reuters