James Mattis signs order to withdraw US troops from Syria
Outgoing US Defense Secretary James Mattis has signed the order to withdraw US troops from Syria.
An unknown official confirmed to CNN on Sunday that the execute order for Syria has been signed, and the withdrawal could reportedly begin within the next few weeks.
Irritated with the criticism and fallout from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation, President Donald Trump on Sunday pushed the Pentagon chief out the door two months earlier than planned, an acrimonious end to a tense relationship that had been eroding in recent months.
In a series of tweets, Trump appeared to question why he had put Mattis in his Cabinet in the first place, and said deputy defense secretary Patrick Shanahan will take over as acting secretary on Jan. 1 to cover the accelerated departure.
When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Trump surprised Pentagon officials last week by announcing that the US would withdraw the roughly 2,000 troops from Syria. Trump on Twitter claimed that the forces had successfully "defeated ISIS," a claim that some defense experts within his own administration have doubted.
After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home! pic.twitter.com/xoNjFzQFTp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 19 December 2018
Mattis resigned on Thursday, one day after the announcement. Mattis in his resignation letter cited policy differences with Trump, saying and the president do not share the same priorities.
Multiple top Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), met the US withdrawal from Syria with criticism. Graham called it an "Obama like mistake."
Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the State Department, also submitted his resignation on Friday due to his disagreement with the president's decision to withdraw the troops.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement last week said the US plans to start bringing troops home "as we transition to the next phase of this campaign." 101/202