Trump made the comment during a conversation with reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting in the White House. “Iran is pulling people out of Syria, but they can frankly do whatever they want there,” the U.S. president said.
Trump also refused to directly answer a question about the timeline of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying only that it will happen “over a period of time.”
“I don’t know, somebody said four months but I didn’t say that either,” Trump added. It has been reported in recent days that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Trump to prolong the withdrawal process.
Administration officials told the New York Times on Monday that Trump has agreed to a gradual withdrawal, following pressure from military officials and politicians.
The officials added Trump has given the military four months to withdraw its 2,000 troops currently in Syria.
“We want to protect the Kurds but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’s sand and it’s death,” Trump added.
Trump went on to say that his administration was not interested in facing the challenge posed by Syria: “We don’t want Syria. Obama gave up Syria years ago when he didn’t violate the red line. I did when I shot 59 missiles but that was a long time later. And when President Obama decided not to violate his statement that never cross the red line and then they did and he didn’t do anything about it.”
The U.S. president also addressed the threat posed by Islamic State, which he claimed has been defeated when he announced his decision to withdraw.
Read more: Haaretz
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