Top US general says Trump didn't consult him on Syria pullout

Geraldine Edwards
February 6, 2019

Abadi added that the USA participation in the anti-Islamic State global coalition is mainly meant to serve the purposes of logistic support, intelligence and military training, not to endanger Iraqi sovereignty.

"It's time", he said in the interview with CBS's Face the Nation. "We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home". "We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do", he added.

The top commander of United States forces in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, told a Senate committee on Tuesday that he was not asked for his advice about a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria before President Donald Trump announced his decision.

In an interview with CBS television, Trump reaffirmed his determination to pull the United States out of "endless wars" in Syria and Afghanistan, but said USA troops would stay on in Iraq, partly "to be looking a little bit at Iran".

The amendment acknowledged progress against Daesh and al Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan but warned that "a precipitous withdrawal" could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russian Federation.

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During his roughly three-hour visit, his first to troops in a combat zone, Trump broke tradition set by previous USA presidents by not meeting with Iraqi leaders.

Trump was expected to tout USA successes in Syria when he appeared before a joint session of Congress to deliver a State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

A report by the inspectors general of the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, issued Monday, said Islamic State "remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that 'could likely resurge in Syria" absent continued counterterrorism pressure'.

Trump also said he plans to transfer some of the American troops stationed in Syria to Iraq.

Trump has said he has no plans to withdraw the 5,200 troops in Iraq, which he says could carry out USA airstrikes inside Syria after American troops withdraw from that country.

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The president defended his decision in December to withdraw troops from Syria but refused to provide a timetable for the pullout, which drew criticism from members of his own Republican Party and concerns among some allies. 'We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. "They love it", said Sen. We can come back very quickly, and I'm not leaving.

Officially, Iraq says there are no American bases on its soil - only instructors deployed at Iraqi bases.

Mr Saleh noted that under 2008 US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, Washington had agreed not to use Iraq "as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries". However, Turkey's Islamist president, Recep Erdogan, called the demand "a very serious mistake" and flatly told U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, "We can not make any concessions in this regard".

US officials say that overall, there are about 2,000 IS militants in Syria. His "little serpent" reference was to Saddam Hussein, who was overthrown that year after the U.S.

The Ain al-Asad military base in Iraq to which Trump was referring was almost the site of a deadly attack over the weekend.

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Watch above, via CBS News, and read the full transcript of the interview here. It is something Mr Trump referred to when he visited the base in December.

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