Counter-IS officials temper Trump's rush to pull out of Syria

Coats said national security officials held an "all-hands-on deck" meeting Tuesday and "some decisions were made".

The White House statement came the day after Trump met with national security aides to discuss the future of the USA. role in Syria.

President Trump said Tuesday he wants to bring USA troops home from Syria now that ISIS is almost defeated on the battlefield - a move that puts him at odds with some of his top military advisers.

But the hawks' relief may not last; the White House statement made it clear that the mission will continue only as long as it takes to defeat the beleaguered Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

After a meeting Tuesday between Trump and his national security team, the White House said that the battle against the Islamic State group was nearly over, but not quite.

The Kingdom's officials have indicated they want the stay, Trump said, adding he has told them they may have to foot the bill for the continued operations. "And we're thinking about that very seriously", Trump said, bemoaning the trillions of dollars spent on wars in the Middle East which he said resulted in "nothing except death and destruction".

Prior to the statement, USA military officials had been awaiting possible new marching orders for the country's involvement in Syria.

The United States has been aiding a military campaign in Syria that has reclaimed much of the territory once under the control of the militant group.

Brett McGurk, the USA special envoy for the global coalition against IS, on Tuesday said the U.S. fight against the militants was not over.

In January, Mr Tillerson said the U.S. would maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to ensure the "enduring defeat" of IS, as well as counter Iranian influence and help end the country's eight-year civil war.

"As we got ready to go into Mosul eighteen months ago, we tried to make sure that our military planning was very closely aligned to our development of stabilization planning and the humanitarian aspects that have gone along with that, as well as with the political planning that had to take place", the general said.

Lister said a US withdrawal would be seen as "empowering Iran further in the Middle East, not weakening it".

Defence Secretary James Mattis told him that the number of United States forces was already being reduced and that a complete withdrawal threatened gains made by the United States and its allies, the senior administration official was cited by NBC as saying.

And, with only a few thousand ISIS fighters thought to remain, the rationale for keeping USA troops alongside Kurdish and Arab militia allies in the east of Syria may soon expire.

Asked about a possible USA pullout, Rouhani said the idea of Americans leaving Syria is being floated to solicit money from countries that want them to remain there.

Most important to CentCom is clearing out the remaining pockets of ISIS in Syria and creating circumstances where stability will replace the chaos.

President Trump recently talked about the U.S.

But there is no timeline yet for the withdrawal, according to the Washington Post, which cited a senior administration official on Wednesday.

Votel said the USA mission to stabilize areas cleared of extremists was six to eight months ahead of schedule. He wants to ensure Islamic State militants are defeated but wants other countries in the region and the United Nations to step up and help provide stability in Syria, the official said.

Putin stressed that it is now necessary to think about new forms of "multilateral cooperation".

"I do expect we will continue to see our alliance on the [Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service] as one of their principal fighting elements", Votel said.

  • Salvatore Jensen