President Donald Trump pushed back against reports of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria during a press event on Wednesday, but confirmed that he will be ending American military activity there in near future.
“We’re getting out, we’re getting out smart, and we’re winning,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting, in response to reporters’ questions about U.S. forces there. “I never said we’re getting out tomorrow. We’re getting out of Syria, but we’re getting out very powerfully.”
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Trump had amended his plans to withdraw about 2,000 American troops from Syria over the next four months, instead of removing all the troops in just a few weeks.
But Trump said he has no specific timeline for the withdrawal. He did say the fight there is no longer worth any amount of American lives or money.
“Syria was lost long ago,” he said. “We’re talking about sand and death. We’re not talking about vast wealth. We’re talking about sand and death.”
He also insisted that the threat of Islamic State militants in the region — the reason for the American military’s return to the Middle East in 2014 — has now been neutralized, thanks to aggressive steps he took to remove combat restrictions on military commanders.