(CNSNews.com) - Several hours after a Pentagon spokeswoman said the U.S. mission in Iraq and Syria has not changed, President Donald Trump indicated that it may not be true.
Trump was talking about all the money and troops the United States dedicates to other countries, when he appeared to veer off script: "And by the way, we're knocking the hell out of ISIS. We'll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now."
(The remark drew applause.)
Trump continued: "Very soon -- very soon we're coming out. We're going to have 100 percent of the caliphate, as they call it -- sometimes referred to as 'land' -- taking it all back quickly, quickly. But we're going to be coming out of there real soon. Going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be."
Two hours earlier, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters, "The nature of our mission has not changed. The coalition remains committed to the lasting defeat of ISIS. We will accomplish this by training, advising and assisting our partner forces in Iraq and Syria."
White said in northern Syria, "military operations continue...as we work by, with and through our coalition partners to defeat ISIS and -- and ensure conditions are set to prevent its return." White said the U.S.-led coalition has significantly degraded ISIS, but "important work remains to guarantee the lasting defeat of these violent extremists."
White said what remains of ISIS is "more fragile than it was one year ago," but it still presents a threat as it takes "full advantage of any opportunity to regain momentum."
The U.S. military is supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS in northern Syria.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was briefing reporters in Washington at the same time President Trump was speaking in Ohio. She was caught off-guard by his remarks about pulling out of Syria.
"I can't comment on what the president supposedly said, I haven't seen it," Nauert said. "I'd have to refer you back to the White House."
"So you're not aware of any policy determination to pull all -- to pull the U.S. out of Syria?" a reporter asked Nauert.
"I am not, no. No," she responded.
"OK," the reporter followed up. "So the president is just speaking off the cuff and making up policies as he goes along without telling--"
"I don't know. I don't know," Nauert said. "I'd have to refer you back to the White House. I'm not -- I'm not aware of his comments."
The reporter noted that both the Russians and the Iranians "are big" in Syria. "And if you guys are going to pull out and just leave it to other people, Russia and Iran are going to go in there. I'm just wondering, have you spoken to the Israelis about this? Because I don't think they'd like it."
Nauert repeated that she was not prepared to comment on what the President "supposedly said, because I've not heard it myself. I'd refer you back to the White House for more information."