President Trump says U.S. troops will leave Syria 'very soon'

BySerena Marshall via ABC logo
Friday, March 30, 2018
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Serena Marshall has the latest on the president's speech.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump delivered a freewheeling speech in Ohio Thursday that veered far off the intended topic of infrastructure.

The president said U.S. troops will be leaving Syria very soon. It's an announcement that seemed to come as a surprise to top officials in his administration.

The president's comments caught the pentagon and the state department completely off-guard, and seemed to even go against his own policy of foreshadowing military movements.

President Trump made a promise of a troop withdrawal from Syria.

"We'll be coming out of Syria, like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon. We're coming out," President Trump said.

The surprise statement came during a speech on infrastructure and seemed to catch his administration by surprise.

"I have not seen the president's comments myself, I don't know the context in which his comments were said, but I can say that, as a general matter, this administration looks to other countries to help out," said Heather Nauert, State Department Spokesperson.

The possible imminent withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria, where there is still a significant ISIS presence and the battle continues daily.

Doesn't just contradict his own policy of warning the enemy...

"America's enemies must never know our plans, or believe they can wait us out," the president said while in Fort Myers in August while referring to efforts in Afghanistan.

But goes against statements from the commander in charge of troops in the Middle East.

Centcom issuing this statement just a day before saying the U.S. mission in Syria: "is strictly focused on the defeat of ISIS" and, "it is our intention to continue to focus on the aspects of ISIS that still need to be addressed."

In January, then secretary of state Rex Tillerson explained the importance of remaining in Syria.

"The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria focused on ensuring ISIS cannot re-emerge," Tillerson had said. "We cannot make the same mistakes that were made in 2011 when a premature departure from Iraq allowed Al-Qaida in Iraq to survive and eventually morph into ISIS.

As a candidate, the president often echoed a similar sentiment.

The U.S.-led coalition has made significant progress against ISIS, but the group has not been destroyed.

And the battle space is more complicated, including Syrians, Kurds, Iranians and Russians, as the civil war continues to ravage the country.


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