President Donald Trump surprised even the most senior members of his Cabinet when he announced Thursday during a speech in Ohio that the U.S. military would be “coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” according to a senior administration official and a U.S. official familiar with the matter.
The president has expressed to top members of his national security team that he would like to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, but none of them expected he’d say it publicly, these officials said.
“By the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS,” Trump said during a speech on infrastructure spending. “We’re coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now, very soon. Very soon, we’re coming out.” [Continue reading…]
In the past month, U.S.-led airstrikes in support of local forces on the ground have dropped significantly. The U.S.-led coalition said it has conducted just seven strikes in Syria in the past week. Islamic State hasn’t lost any significant territory in months, U.S. military officials have said.
U.S. officials warned Friday that Islamic State is already taking advantage of the battlefield pause to regroup, raising the prospect of its reemergence as a serious threat to the U.S. and its allies.
“If we leave sooner rather than later, then there is a good chance that this could be all for naught and they could come back,” said one U.S. official. [Continue reading…]