USA will gradually pull troops from Syria over 4 month period

03 January, 2019, 04:01 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a critic of Trump's decision on Syria, said on Sunday the president had been thinking "long and hard about Syria" and how to withdraw United States forces while maintaining national security interests.

"I never said I'm getting out tomorrow".

"We talked about Syria".

"If we leave now, the Kurds are going to get slaughtered", he said.

"Oh, we're withdrawing", he said, adding that it would happen "over a period of time".

When Trump first ordered a drawdown within 30 days, his position provoked an outcry, including from some of his political allies like Graham, who said that such a hasty withdrawal would leave exposed US partners such as the Kurds, who are concerned about a possible attack from Turkey.

Graham says Trump is receptive to making a deal if it achieves his goal of securing the border.

The Kurds have been the main element of the US-backed "Syrian Democratic Forces", a proxy army operating in northeastern Syria against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

U.S. ground troops first became involved in Syria in autumn 2015 when then-President Barack Obama sent in a small number of special forces to train and advise local Kurdish fighters who were fighting IS.

President Donald Trump will give the Pentagon about four months to withdraw the almost 2,000 military personnel stationed in Syria, The New York Times reported Monday, citing administration officials.

The statement said F-16 fighter jets carried out the raid around al-Sousa village in eastern Syria, as "30 leaders from Daesh (Islamic State) gangs" met in the building.

The president also said Syria was "lost long ago".

The issue of the potential slaughter of those allies has been a point of contention even among Trump supporters in the days following his sudden announcement of the end of USA intervention in the Syria conflict.

"The impromptu announcement of the USA withdrawal from (Syria) caused a lot of questions", French Defense Minister Florence Parly said Monday on a visit to French personnel stationed in Jordan. "They're inside the 10-yard line in defeating ISIS, but we're not there yet. We're not thrilled about that", he said.

It was not entirely clear whether Trump was referring to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

The next day Defense Secretary James Mattis announced he would be leaving the administration, submitting a resignation letter that also served as a stinging rebuke to the president's foreign policy, including his treatment of longtime allies.

'I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places. The pro-US Kurds had asked for Syrian troops to be deployed first at Manbij, then throughout the North East of Syria, above the Euphrates. That proposal would likely anger North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, where Tump's national security adviser, John Bolton, will hold talks this week.


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