Trump’s abrupt announcement last month that he was bringing home the roughly 2,000 troops in Syria, saying they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State there, sparked concern among officials in Washington and allies abroad and prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign.
In recent days, Trump administration officials have applied the brakes, making clear the withdrawal will not happen quickly. The president himself said last week that the United States would get out of Syria slowly “over a period of time.”
“The president hasn’t changed his position, as he mentioned his primary goal is to ensure the safety of our troops and the safety of our allies as well,” White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News on Monday. “And so the Department of Defense will come up with its operational plan to safely withdraw our troops.”
“It takes time to take the troops out because we want to make sure that our troops are safe in this process,” she said.
Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the two countries’ commitment to destroy Islamic State and “plans for a strong, deliberate, and coordinated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria” during a telephone call on Monday, the White House said.