Donald Trump
Donald Trump Reuters

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke over the phone Thursday afternoon, following the White House’s announcement that the US will pull out all of its military forces currently operating in Syria.

On Wednesday, the White House confirmed reports that it has initiated a full withdrawal of American forces from Syrian territory.

“We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a statement.

“Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate,” Sanders said. “These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign.”

The sudden announcement has left American allies in the region – including Israel – scrambling to prepare for the US withdrawal, amid fears the Iranian regime could capitalize on the pullout to strengthen its position in the war-torn country.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed that Israel would “intensify” its efforts against Iranian entrenchment in Syria following the US withdrawal.

“We will continue to take very strong action against Iran’s attempts to entrench itself in Syria. In neither of these sectors do we intend to lessen our efforts; we will intensify them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the U.S.,” Netanyahu said Thursday in a statement to the media.

Trump tweeted Thursday that it was “time for others to finally fight” against ISIS, pointing to Iran, Russia, and Syria, while adding that the US cannot continue to be “the policeman of the Middle East.”

“Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing? Do we want to be there forever? Time for others to finally fight Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us. I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!”

Later, President Trump spoke with Netanyahu over the phone to discuss the future of US and Israeli efforts to remove Iran from Syria following the withdrawal.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office Thursday night, Netanyahu “spoke with US President Donald Trump on the issue of Syria. The two discussed ways to continue cooperation between Israel and the US against the Iranian aggression.”