During a meeting with a group of Republican senators on Wednesday, President Donald Trump signaled his readiness to adhere to his plan to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, according to Senator Rand Paul.
“Not only is he following through with his Syria policy, I really do think there will be changes in Afghanistan as well. If you look at the polling data for the American people, I think the American people are with the president and they’re tired, frankly, of both parties, who are unwilling to stand up and say enough is enough”, Paul said.
He declined to elaborate on what Trump said about exact timelines for US forces’ pullout from Syria and Afghanistan.
“We talked extensively about Syria. He talked about how we will continue to make sure that ISIS (Daesh) is not a problem but at the same time, we will not just go into theater and stay forever. I think he was steadfast in that”, Paul underscored.
His comments came hours after an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson tweeted that several US service members had been among the 16 people killed in a bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. The Daesh terrorists reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
The spokesperson added that the US servicemen were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Manbij.
The announcement came as US Vice President Mike Pence claimed that Daesh has been defeated and its Caliphate has crumbled, adding that Washington is “now able to hand off the fight against ISIS to our coalition partners”.
The remarks followed Trump announcing plans to withdraw roughly 2,000 US troops from Syria within the next several months, in a move that he claimed can be explained by the fact that American forces had implemented their task of obliterating Daesh in the Arab country.
The decision was slammed by some US officials and prompted two resignations: US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, who announced that his views were no longer aligned with Trump’s, and Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the US coalition in Syria.
Washington’s Push for Leaving Afghanistan
In a separate development, The Washington Post quoted two senior White House officials as saying that President Trump has yet to make a final decision on the possible withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
“Trump still wants to remove troops from Afghanistan — eventually all of them — but the current withdrawal probably will be far fewer than 7,000,” the officials pointed out.
The developments come after The Wall Street Journal reported on 20 December, citing unnamed US officials, that a pullout of American troops in Afghanistan could begin in several weeks.
The US and NATO initially launched military operations in Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attack. While most of the US troops had left the country by the end of 2014, NATO launched a new mission in 2015, called Resolute Support, to provide training and assistance to Afghan security forces.
Over 16,000 soldiers from 39 NATO countries are currently serving in Afghanistan as part of the mission, with the majority of the contingent from the US.