WASHINGTON DC, The United States – US President Donald Trump’s stance on US troop presence in Syria remains the same, White House strategic communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp said on Monday.
Schlapp made the statement during an interview with Fox News and added that Trump’s position has not changed since his government’s main goal is to maintain the security of US and allied troops even after US exit from Syria.
“The president hasn’t changed his position, as he mentioned his primary goal is to ensure the safety of our troops and the safety of our allies as well,” White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News on Monday.
“And so the Department of Defense will come up with its operational plan to safely withdraw our troops,” she added.
In a tweet on Monday morning, Trump condemned The New York Times for publishing “a very inaccurate story on my intentions for Syria.”
“No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS (Daesh) and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!” he wrote.
The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2019
In December, Trump announced that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria, ensuring that the goal of defeating Daesh [ISIS] had already been achieved.
In response to the US president’s announcement, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, as well as counterterrorism coordinator Brett McGurk, have stepped down.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton spent Monday in Israel to assure the Jewish state that US troops would not leave Syria until Turkey agreed not to attack the Kurdish militias, allied forces of the North Americans. Bolton also assured the Israelis that the US would only leave Syria completely when the rest of the Daesh were eliminated.
“The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement,” Bolton said.
“It’s also very important that as we discuss with members of the coalition, [and] other countries that have an interest, like Israel and Turkey, that we expect that those who have fought with us in Syria . . . particularly the Kurds,” not be put in “jeopardy” by the withdrawal, added Bolton.
Despite the defeat of the terrorist group in much of Syria, some pockets of militants remain in the region. According to the US Department of Defense, more than 450 attacks were carried out by the US-led international coalition against Daesh during the first two weeks of 2019.
Donald Trump’s initial announcement was followed by a move by Turkish military forces in the Syrian city of Manjib, where Kurdish forces remain.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also warned on Friday that the US would first need to ensure that Turkey would not massacre the Kurds within the US Allied Protection People’s Protection (YPG) forces. The YPG is backed by the US, but is considered a terrorist group by the Turks and therefore has created the fear that the exit of the US military from Syria could reach them.