Last Month, Trump Called for U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Syria; Today, More Americans Are Killed There

By Susan Jones | January 16, 2019 | 11:24am EST
Television footage shows the explosion that killed coalition troops, including some Americans on routine patrol in Syria today. (Screen capture/Fox News)

( - "After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home!" President Trump announced on December 19, almost one month ago.

Trump's announcement of an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria drew an instant backlash. Some of Trump's own Cabinet members and fellow Republicans warned that a sudden U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria would be reckless -- repeating the same mistake that President Obama made in pulling troops out of Iraq.

Today, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition announced that an undisclosed number of U.S. troops were killed on routine patrol in Syria. "We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time," the spokesman tweeted.

Television footage showed the aftermath of the explosion in northern Syria that killed the Americans.

Flash back to Trump's video message announcing the U.S. troop withdrawal on Dec. 19:

"I get very sad when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country. It's a great honor -- we cherish them, but it's heartbreaking. There's no question about it, it’s heartbreaking. Now we've won. It's time to come back, they're getting ready -- you're going to see them soon," Trump said.

Press reports said ISIS is claiming responsibility for today's apparent suicide attack.

Both National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have urged a go-slow approach on withdrawing U.S. troops.

Earlier this month, Bolton said the troop withdrawal would be based on "objectives that we want to accomplish," including the defeat of ISIS and protection for the Kurds.

Just this past Sunday, Pompeo told CBS's "Face the Nation" that the president's "guidance is incredibly clear."

"The roughly 2,000 uniformed soldiers that are in Syria today are going to be withdrawn," Pompeo continued. "That -- that activity is underway. We're going to do so in an orderly and deliberate way, a way that protects America's national security, a way that allows us to continue the important mission that they were on, the counterterrorism mission.

"The effort to make sure that with the destruction of ISIS is not only complete, but that their resurgence is not possible, our efforts to counter the threat from terrorism stemming from the Islamic Republic of Iran, those are all real missions. The tactical change we've made and the withdrawal of those 2,000 troops is just that, a tactical change. Mission remains the same," Pompeo said.

Last week, Pompeo indicated there would be no quick retreat: “We’ve learned that when America retreats, chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when we partner with our enemies, they advance.”

As of Jan. 11, press reports quoted a U.S. defense official as saying that no U.S. troops have been removed from Syria so far.

That official said the withdrawal would begin with military equipment, not personnel.

In fact, according to the Associated Press, the official said "the equipment withdrawal is under way and that an unspecified number of additional U.S. troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the withdrawal process. These include troops to provide additional security."

Congress has never specifically authorized the use of American military force in Syria.

Also See:

Invoking Fallen Soldiers, Trump Says it’s Time For US Troops in Syria ‘to Come Home’
Administration Official on Trump's Troop Withdrawal: 'I Really Don't See This As a Surprise'
After Trump’s Syria Decision, US-Led Coalition Continues Airstrikes, Says ISIS ‘Presents a Very Real Threat’


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