Headline: Trump: Iran can do whatever it wants in Syria

Saul Bowman
January 3, 2019

When he announced he was pulling troops from Syria, Trump said the withdrawal would be rapid.

During a Cabinet meeting at the White House in front of reporters, Trump said he had never discussed a reported four-month timetable for the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria amid a battle against Islamic State militants.

"I'm going to ask him to sit down with his generals and reconsider how to do this".

Asked about a timeline for withdrawing troops from the country, the president described how he viewed the country and the fighting there.

During a lightning visit to USA troops based in Iraq last week, Trump said the United States would no longer be the world's "policeman".

Trump claimed Iran was suffering under renewed USA sanctions since he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with global powers- he spoke in the Cabinet Room of the White House with a movie-style poster promoting his sanctions laid before him on the conference table- but he did admit they remain a powerful presence in Syria.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's withdrawal plans and if there were any official changes to them.

On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning, Graham said Trump had talked to General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus suggests that Mr Trump appears to be washing his hands of Syria and handing the whole job over to Russia, Turkey and Iran.

"The results are FAR BETTER than I ever said they were going to be!"

"I think the president is committed to making sure when we leave Syria that ISIS is completely defeated and we are inside the 10-yard line", he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group.

Trump had come under fire for his projected quick withdrawal from various quarters, including retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded American-led troops in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, and warned, "If you pull American influence out, you're likely to have greater instability and of course it'll be much more hard for the United States to try to push events in any direction".

Trump decided on the Syria withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, ignoring the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or USA allies participating in anti-IS operations.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Trump is considering reversing the decision - announced by tweet earlier this month - to pull USA troops from Syria.

Trump blamed Syria's instability on the policies of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who didn't attack Assad after he crossed the former United States president's "red line" of using chemical weapons on his own people.

'I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places.

Graham had been an outspoken critic of Trump's policy, which had drawn bipartisan criticism.

Graham said the process of removing the military could potentially be slowed down. "That's why we need a forward-deployed force in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan for a while to come".

National security adviser John Bolton is scheduled to travel to Israel and Turkey in January.

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