US President Donald 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-Islamic State operations.
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 Islamic State militants. “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.
In recent days, Trump appeared to back off from any hasty pullout and stressed that the operation would be slow. “We’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time-fighting Daesh remnants,” he said on Twitter on Monday.
US commanders planning the US withdrawal are recommending that YPG terrorists battling Daesh be allowed to keep US-supplied weapons, according to US officials. Trump said he was not happy that the Kurds were selling oil to Iran, but that he wanted to protect them either way.
“I didn’t like the fact that they’re selling the small (amount of) oil that they have to Iran, and we asked them not to sell it to Iran… We’re not thrilled about that. OK? I’m not happy about it at all,” he said. “We want to protect the Kurds, nevertheless. We want to protect the Kurds, but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’s sand. And it’s death.”