- President Donald Trump reportedly wants an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
- Top military officials reportedly tried to push back on the demand.
- Trump countered with a pitch for the military to destroy the Islamic State within five to six months, and then withdraw from the country.
President Donald Trump is sounding off about an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Syria, according to multiple news reports published on Thursday.
But the president reportedly faced some strong opposition from top military officials, including Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, who warned Trump of the consequences of a rapid withdrawal, during a meeting on Tuesday.
After Trump ranted about the US “wasting” trillions of dollars in the Middle East during the meeting, he claimed that it had achieved “nothing” in return, according to officials familiar with the discussions.
During the meeting, Dunford reportedly said Trump’s plan was not productive and asked the president for clear instructions on what to do, The Associated Press reported.
Mattis chimed in and argued that a quick pull-out would not only be detrimental to the US, but doing so in a responsible manner would be logistically impossible. Mattis reportedly suggested a one-year withdrawal timeframe instead.
Trump then countered and gave officials five to six months to destroy the Islamic State and then withdraw, officials told The Associated Press.
Trump also indicated that he expects the military to succeed in destroying ISIS by October.
The reservations that Mattis and Dunford have expressed about US troops leaving Syria too quickly may be rooted in worries that ISIS militants are looking for ways to regroup in the region, according to the Military Times.
“Daesh is not over,” a commander of the US-backed Manbij Military Council said, referring to the transliteration of ISIS’s Arabic acronym. “Daesh still has cells present in all areas and every now and then there are problems in areas where the cells are still operating.”
Around 2,000 US troops are in Syria as of December 2017. Four US soldiers have been killed in action since the US became involved about three and a half years ago as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
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