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Donald Trump

Trump softens Syria pull-out schedule but claims ‘hero’ status

  • ‘If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria … they would be a national hero,’ tweeted the US president
  • But Trump has apparently watered down plans to leave a war-torn Middle Eastern country
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 11:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 4:40am

US President Donald Trump appeared on Monday to water down plans for a withdrawal of American troops from Syria, even as he defiantly claimed his achievements in the conflict should make him a “national hero”.

The tweeted comment came the day after a senior Republican senator said that Trump had promised to stay in Syria to finish the job of destroying Islamic State – days after he said troops were coming home.

“If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an ISIS loaded mess when I became President, they would be a national hero,” Trump tweeted, using another acronym for IS.

“ISIS is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants.”

About 2,000 US troops as well as other foreign forces are in Syria to help local anti-government rebels battling IS.

The US-led coalition launched its first raids against IS in September 2014, more than two years before Trump won the US presidential election. US-backed forces seized the extremists’ de facto capital of Raqa on October 17, 2017.

Earlier this month, Trump announced his Syria withdrawal by tweeting “We have defeated ISIS,” even though thousands of the group’s fighters are thought to still be in Syria.

Military and security experts contended that Trump was overstating the case and warned against a hasty withdrawal.

In Afghanistan, Trump also wants to bring home about half of the 14,000 soldiers who remain locked in a war against Taliban guerrillas, but no formal announcement has been made concerning that move.

Trump’s planned troop drawdowns, particularly the one in Syria, triggered the resignation of his defence secretary, James Mattis.

Pentagon may let Kurdish militants in Syria keep weapons US gave them after troops withdraw

On Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who had expressed concern about Trump’s pull-out, emerged from a two-hour lunch meeting with the president to say that Trump “understands the need to finish the job”.

“I think the president is committed to making sure when we leave Syria that ISIS is completely defeated,” Graham said.

Another prominent critic of the pull-out was the retired US army general Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, who on Sunday insisted on ABC’s This Week that a US pull-out might cause “greater instability” in the region.

“It is Fake News and Pundits who have FAILED for years that are doing the complaining. If I stayed in Endless Wars forever, they would still be unhappy!” Trump tweeted on Monday.