Donald Trump’s call for US retreat from Syria leaves Pentagon, State Dept officials flummoxed
US President Donald Trump on Thursday, March 29, gave hint at the withdrawal of American troops from war-ravaged Syria "very soon", leave the Pentagon and State Department officials astonished.
Speaking on infrastructure spending in Ohio, Trump said the US was already "knocking the hell out of ISIS" and hence Washington was no contemplating an exit from the West Asian country. Trump said it was now the duty of "other people" to take care of the Syrian situation. He also lamented that the US has "wasted" $7trillion in wars in the volatile region.
In Syria, around 2,000 American troops have been working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to win back ground from the terror organisation to include Raqqa, once the proclaimed capital of the ISIS in Syria.
Besides, officials from the State Department and US International Agency for Development are also working on the ground to restore normalcy in various cities and towns of Syria in the wake of the ISIS's retreat. They have been helped by and are in turn helping international players on restoring infrastructure in the country which has seen constant war and violence for the last seven years and still is.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have said in the past that the American troops would remain in Syria as part of the US's goal of preventing the terrorists from gaining prominence. But Trump's indication now has left many in the top two establishments of the administration confused.
According to an ABC News report, while the Pentagon referred questions about Trump's comment to the White House, the State Department said it was not unaware of the policy of withdrawing the US troops from Syria.
The White House Security Council did not comment despite a request, the report added.
According to observers, Trump also contradicted his own speech delivered in Fort Myer in Virginia last August while announcing Washington's new Afghanistan policy. He said on that occasion that the enemies of Washington shouldn't know about its plans.
In January, Mattis too reiterated the same in a letter to the Congress. He said the US doesn't have a timeline based approach to its presence in countries like Iraq or Syria.
Mattis spoke against a premature retreat from Syria, saying it would only see the extremist elements regather their strength and assert control over the local territories.
While the ISIS hasn't been defeated completely in Syria, its dictator Bashar al-Assad is continuing to fight a civil war against his countrymen with the support of Russia. An American retreat would only leave more opportunities them to flourish without any check, feel observers.