The U.S. has no timeline to withdraw its forces from Syria but does not plan to stay in the war-torn country indefinitely, a senior official in the Department of State told the Reuters news agency on January 5.
“We have no timeline for our military forces to withdraw from Syria … It will be done in such a way that we and our allies and partners maintain pressure on ISIS throughout and we do not open up any vacuums for terrorists,” the official, who asked not to be identified, said.
Several U.S. officials told Reuters that the withdrawal from Syria could take several months. However, a senior administration official traveling with White House national security adviser John Bolton on a trip to the Middle East said U.S. military commander has assured U.S. President Donald Trump that their mission against ISIS “can be done in weeks.”
Meanwhile, other U.S. officials revealed to Reuters that a pre-scheduled conference for the counties participating in the US-led coalition have become a part of ongoing “damage control efforts” following Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
Ministers from around 79 countries are expected to attend the upcoming conference, which will be held in Washington on February 7.
“This [Trump’s withdrawal announcement] was a slap-dash, individual decision … This is nothing more than damage limitation,” a Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
Some describe these developments as an example of the ongoing efforts in the Department of State and the Pentagon to manipulate Trump’s decision in order to keep American forces in Syria as long as possible. Many in Washington apparently believe that the withdrawal from Syria will weaken the U.S. influence in the Middle East and empower Russia and Iran.