US President Donald Trump says Iranians can “do whatever they want” in Syria, dodging a question about when the US would withdraw from the war ravaged country.
“Iran is pulling people out of Syria, but they can frankly do whatever they want there,” the US president said.
Asked about the timeline of the US withdrawal from Syria, he refused to give a direct answer.
President Bashar al-Assad has asked Iran and Russia to “stop the interference of some Western states” as Syria is setting up a committee tasked with negotiating a new post-war constitution.
“I don’t know, somebody said four months but I didn’t say that either,” Trump said. “We want to protect the Kurds but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’s sand and it’s death.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly asked Trump to prolong the withdrawal process to four months.
“We don’t want Syria. Obama gave up Syria years ago when he didn’t violate the red line. I did when I shot 59 missiles but that was a long time later. And when President Obama decided not to violate his statement that never cross the red line and then they did and he didn’t do anything about it.”
The two sides reaffirmed both nations’ determination to continue combating terrorism.
Trump’s decision to end the US military presence in Syria and scale it back in Afghanistan, made him further isolated as it led to resignation of General James Mattis as the United States Secretary of Defense.
Mattis reportedly failed to convince Trump that the US military presence in Syria is associated with maintaining critical alliances and partnerships.
The Republican president has tried to appear steadfast in his Syria policy despite disagreement from politicians within his own party and Pentagon officials.