WEST BEACH: President Donald Trump is telling advisers he wants an early exit of US troops from Syria, two senior administration officials said on Friday, a stance that may put him at odds with many top US officials.
Trump is spending Easter weekend at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate. During a speech in Richfield, Ohio on Thursday, he revealed his desire to withdraw US forces from Syria and turn over security to regional countries.
He said that based on allied victories against the militant Islamic State group, “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon.” “Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we’re coming out,” Trump said. “We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.”
The administration officials said Trump’s comment during the speech reflected internal deliberations with advisers in which he has wondered aloud why US forces should remain with the militants on their heels.
Trump has made clear that “once ISIS and its remnants are destroyed that the United States would be looking toward having countries in the region playing a larger role in ensuring security and leaving it at that,” one official said.
Such a policy, however, is nowhere near complete, the official added.
The second official said Trump’s national security advisers have told him US forces should stay in small numbers for at least a couple of years to make sure gains against the militants are held and ensure Syria does not essentially become a permanent Iranian base.
Top national security aides discussed Syria in a White House meeting recently but have yet to settle on a strategy for US forces in Syria to recommend to Trump going forward, the official said.
“So far he has not given an order to just get out,” the official said.
About 2,000 US troops are deployed in Syria.
An American service member was among two people killed on Thursday by improvised explosive device in Syria, two US officials said.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2018