President Trump says keeping some troops in Syria isn’t necessary

Author: CBS News
American soldier mount the U.S. flag on a vehicle near the town of Tel Tamr, north Syria, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)
American soldier mount the U.S. flag on a vehicle near the town of Tel Tamr, north Syria, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

President Donald Trump on Monday said he doesn’t think keeping a limited number of U.S. troops in Syria will be necessary, other than leaving a few troops to secure oil, as he faces backlash for the way he ordered the withdrawal of troops from northern Syria.

Mr. Trump, making the comments in a Cabinet meeting with top White House officials and department secretaries, said troops who have been in Syria will be sent elsewhere before eventually heading home.

The president also insisted “you have to look at both ways” in the conflict between the Turks and Kurdish allies, because “plenty of Turks have been killed because of conflict on their borders.” Mr. Trump reiterated his line that the Kurds, who lost thousands of lives in the fight alongside the U.S. against ISIS, are “not angels.”

“We never agreed to protect the Kurds for their rest of their life,” Mr. Trump said in the Cabinet meeting.

The president insisted the ceasefire the U.S. says it struck with Turkey is holding, though Turkey maintains it did not agree to a ceasefire. The commander-in-chief took credit for capturing ISIS, claiming he knows more than pundits or anyone else on the topic.

Mr. Trump said he was taking troops out of northern Syria to diminish the United States’ presence in the Middle East, but meanwhile, the U.S. is sending thousands of troops to Saudi Arabia.

Criticism of the president over Syria comes at a time when he most needs Republican allies as Democrats’ impeachment inquiry moves swiftly forward. A number of top administration officials have been called on to testify on Capitol Hill.

Over the weekend, the president reversed his decision to hold next year’s G-7 summit at his club near Miami, after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney held a press conference for the express purpose of announcing and defending the summit. In that same press conference, Mulvaney said the administration had withheld Ukraine aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate alleged events surrounding the 2016 election. Mulvaney then reversed parts of his press conference in a subsequent statement and in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Trump claimed the G-7 summit at his club would have been better than any other G-7 summit. He also insisted he didn’t need the money or the promotion from the summit, telling reporters, “I think I get more promotion than any human being that’s ever lived.”

The president also lamented the protection of the whistleblower who made a complaint that launched Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, claiming against evidence that the whistleblower’s complaint was inaccurate.

Mr. Trump did not respond to a reporter’s question about whether Mulvaney would stay on as acting chief of staff. Mulvaney was in the room.

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