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Iran Press TV

US policy on troops in Syria unchanged: Pentagon

Iran Press TV

Fri Apr 6, 2018 12:49AM

The Pentagon says the US military presence in Syria will remain the same for now, days after President Donald Trump said the American troops would leave the country soon.

"Our position in Syria has been to defeat ISIS," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters on Thursday at the Pentagon, using an acronym for the terrorist group. "That mission has not changed."

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said that Washington would only adjust the level of the troops in the Arab country once the fight against Daesh has ended.

"One of the things that we haven't been given is a timeline and that's actually very effective," McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon.

"The President has actually been very good in not giving us a specific timeline," he added.

McKenzie said that in Afghanistan American troops previously "operated against a timeline that was known to the enemy."

"We've always thought that as we reach finality against ISIS (Daesh) in Syria we're going to adjust the level of our presence there so in that sense nothing has actually changed," he said.

Last week, Trump announced that he wants to withdraw US troops from Syria, complaining that Washington has wasted trillions of dollars in Middle East wars.

The president, however, changed his mind after his advisers reportedly convinced him that an abrupt withdrawal from Syria could risk resurgence by Daesh.

A top Trump administration official told NBC News on Wednesday that the president agreed in a meeting with his national security team Tuesday to keep American military presence in Syria for an undetermined period, but "wasn't thrilled about it, to say the least."

When his advisers told him they needed more time to complete the mission, Trump demanded to know how much longer, the senior administration official said.

"If you need more time, how much more time do you need? Six months? A year?" he asked, according to the official.

His team said they could not tell how long it will take to defeat Daesh terrorists and train local forces to protect their gains after the United States leaves.

The official said Trump reluctantly agreed to give the effort more time when advisers reminded him that he has spoken against setting deadlines in foreign military operations in the past.

The United States has had an uninvited military intervention in Syria since 2014. The campaign has been seriously criticized for being ineffective or supportive of the terrorist groups like Daesh at times.

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