Trump vows allies won't 'take advantage' after Mattis exit

Geraldine Edwards
December 25, 2018

The announcement of US President Donald Trump to withdraw his troops from Syria at the instigation of Turkish Present Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has rattled worldwide allies, and runs the risk of further empowering an autocrat that already has an outsized influence on the Balkan region.

Trump announced last week that he was withdrawing thousands of troops from Syria and Afghanistan in a move that was met with backlash.

US President Donald Trump announced Wednesday the official withdrawal of his nation's troops from Syria after Daesh was defeated.

The YPG has been the main USA ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

Mick Mulvaney told ABC's "This Week" that the president and his defense chief "just could never get on the same page" on Syria, adding that Trump had said since his presidential campaign that "he wanted to get out of Syria".

Manbij has been a major flashpoint between Ankara and Washington. "If you want to move away from Syria, why wouldn't you do it after you've done the work that you've been planning for so long?"

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Berreth's body has not yet been found and officials said they didn't want to speculate on where they believe it might be. Location data later suggested that by November 25 the phone was in Idaho, 800 miles from Berreth's home.

"We should not forget ... what we owe to those who died on the ground fighting terrorism", he said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

"Increased engagement from our friends, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and others can ensure that Iran does not profit from the eradication of [IS]".

Trump on Thursday, however, appeared to walk back his claim that ISIS had been totally defeated, and suggested that other countries, including USA allies, will have to confront ISIS on their own.

"I've encouraged him to find people who have some overlap with him but don't see the world in lockstep with him", Mulvaney said.

They were headed towards Jarabulus and Manbij which is held by a US-backed Kurdish YPG militia viewed by Ankara as "terrorists" linked to Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey.

The decision followed an earlier Trump phone call with Erdogan, who has been pressing for a USA withdrawal.

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In a tweet , McConnell said the funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, would last through February 8, 2019. The House had already passed a version of the bill, which extensively revises prison and sentencing guidelines.

USA forces are still in Manbij and the Turkish-backed fighters will not advance until they withdraw, Hamoud told Reuters.

The US president concluded: 'Our troops are coming home!' Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists due to their links to a Kurdish insurgent group inside Turkey.

Officials have cautioned against a timeline, but the withdrawal could begin in weeks.

A rebel spokesman said on Monday Turkish-backed Syrian forces had reinforced the area around the town of Manbij, occupied by the Kurdish fighters, in preparation for the United States withdrawal.

Trump tweeted also on Thursday that Mattis will retire "with distinction" at the end of February, an announcement the Pentagon later confirmed by publishing its chief's resignation letter, implying entrenched divergences with Trump. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of USA troops from the area.

Mattis detailed his belief about having a strong global presence in his resignation letter.

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