Trump says he is determined to bring back US troops from Afghanistan, Syria
NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump says he's determined to get out of “endless wars” in Afghanistan and Syria and “bring our folks back home,” underscoring his pledge to remove troops from the war-torn region.
In an interview aired Sunday on CBS’ news programme “Face the Nation,” the president renewed his pledge to pull troops out of Syria and touted his administration’s success in fighting ISIS in the region.
At the same time, Trump said he wants to keep a military presence in Iraq to “watch” Iran, as well as all over the “troubled Middle East.”
“All I want to do is be able to watch,”
Trump said. “We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up.”
“We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.”
When asked if the troops were needed to “strike”
Iran, Trump insisted that he merely wanted to watch.
Aside from Iraq, Trump did not rule out the possibility of retaining a US military presence in Afghanistan. He also promised to leave
“real intelligence” in the country, watching over
“nests” – of terrorists, apparently – forming there.
The president also expressed measured optimism for ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban to end U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
“I've been hitting very hard in Afghanistan and now we're negotiating with the Taliban,” Trump said. “We'll see what happens, who knows.”
"If you look at Afghanistan we're going in very soon we'll be going into our 19th year spending $50 billion a year," Trump added.
Responding to a question, Trump indicated his disagreements on Afghanistan strategy with former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis led him to fire him. Earlier reports indicated Mattis resigned of his own volition.
“He resigned because I asked him to resign,” Trump said of Mattis, adding that “I gave him big budgets and he didn't do well in Afghanistan. I was not happy with the job he was doing in Afghanistan.”
Mattis announced his resignation in December in apparent protest of Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.