Trump: I’ve done more damage to ISIS than anyone

US President defends decision to withdraw troops from Syria amid reports he made the decision hastily.

Elad Benari, Canada,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Reuters

US President Donald Trump on Friday defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria which, he claimed, was done because the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group was defeated.

“I’ve done more damage to ISIS than all recent presidents....not even close!” he tweeted.

The tweet followed a report in The Associated Press which said Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against ISIS.

According to US and Turkish officials quoted in the report, Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week.

The December 14 call, described by officials who were not authorized to discuss the decision-making process publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, provides insight into a consequential Trump decision that prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It also set off a frantic, four-day scramble to convince the president either to reverse or delay the decision, according to the report.

The call reportedly came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to have the two presidents discuss Erdogan’s threats to launch a military operation against US-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based. The NSC then set up the call.

Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.

But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put US troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.

In the following days, Trump remained unmoved by those scrambling to convince him to reverse or at least delay the decision to give the military and Kurdish forces time to prepare for an orderly withdrawal.

The White House rejected the description of the call from the officials but was not specific.

“In no uncertain terms, reporting throughout this story is not true,” National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said, according to AP. “It is clear from the context that this false version of events is from sources who lack authority on the subject, possibly from unnamed sources in Turkey.”

The State Department and Pentagon declined to comment on the account of the decision to withdraw the troops.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.

Since then, several military offensives, including those backed by the US-led international coalition, have since seen ISIS lose most areas it once controlled, including the loss of their de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.

However, despite losing the physical caliphate, thousands of ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, and the group continues to carry out terrorist attacks and could easily move back into territory it once held if American forces withdraw.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)




top