Trump reluctantly agrees to keep US troops in Syria, for now

Matt Saintsing
April 04, 2018 - 10:59 am

Photo by Chris Kleponis/Pool/Sioa USA

President Donald Trump alluded to pulling out of Syria this week, but has decided to maitain current U.S. troop levels in the war-torn country now entering its eighth year of a brutal, bloody civil war with the end goal of defeating the Islamic State.

There are about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria charged with training, advising, and equipping local forces in their fight against ISIS, and Trump signaled the possibility of a U.S. withdrawl from Syia at a press conference Tuesday.

“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” said Trump.

But that was before Trump met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other national security staff later that afternoon, and now it appears that American troop presence in Syria will go on as business as usual. 

A senior administration official told NBC News that Trump "wasn't thrilled about it, to say the least." 

According to NBC News, several top officials, including Mattis, made the case that the battle against ISIS in Syria is nearly finished, but that pulling out of Syria right now would risk losing all the progress the U.S.-led coalition has made. 

The White House issued a statement Wednesday morning saying the fight against ISIS in Syria is coming to a "rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed." The White House also said they "expect countries in the region and beyond, plus the United Nations, to work toward peace and ensure that ISIS never re-emerges." 

On Tuesday, senior military commanders made the case for what sounded like an indefinite American presence in Syria Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander U.S. Army Gen. Votel said “a lot of very good military progress made over the last couple years.”

“But again, the hard part I think is in front of us, and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes, addressing the long-term issues of reconstruction and other things that will have to be done,” said Votel.