White House tells Pentagon to plan to withdraw troops from Syria

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
President Donald Trump talks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The White House has instructed the Pentagon to begin planning for the immediate withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, CBS News correspondent David Martin confirms.

President Trump, who has long wanted to withdraw troops from the war-torn region, suggested on Twitter Wednesday that ISIS is defeated and therefore, there is no more reason to be there.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency,” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

But the Pentagon was not as definitive, and Mr. Trump’s own administration has suggested ISIS isn’t defeated.

“At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters in a statement.

Two weeks ago, Special Envoy Brett McGurk said the end of ISIS will be a long-term initiative, and “nobody is declaring mission accomplished.”

Mr. Trump has long expressed a desire to withdraw troops from the war-torn region, but had been urged against rapidly withdrawing U.S. armed forces. The presidentĀ recently replacedĀ his former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, who opposed the immediate removal of troops, with Gen. Mark Milley.

In April, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the administration had made a decision about whether to pull troops, although White House press secretary Sarah Sanders did not say at the time whether that mean troops were coming home.

Reporting by CBS News correspondent David Martin and CBS News’ Kathryn WatsonĀ 

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