Leading US military commander says he ‘was not consulted’ by Trump on Syria withdrawal

President Donald Trump sent shock ways through the United States military when, in December, he announced that he would be withdrawing troops from Syria—a decision that everyone from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to former Sen. Bob Corker (who headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) has criticized. Trump has asserted that because the terrorist organization ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria) has been “defeated” in Syria, it’s time to bring U.S. troops home. But the decision continues to draw widespread criticism, and the commander of U.S. Central Command is now saying that he “was not consulted” prior to Trump’s announcement.

During a February 5 hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Joseph Votel explained, “I was not aware of the specific announcement. Certainly, we are aware that (President Trump) had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart Iraq, depart Syria.”

Maine’s Sen. Angus King, an independent, asked the general, “So, you weren’t consulted before that decision was announced?” And Votel replied, “We were not. I was not consulted.”

Withdrawal from Syria was not a decision that former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agreed with; in fact, he resigned because of it. Military expects are fearful that ISIS—an organization so violent that even al-Qaeda considers their methods extreme—could regain territory in Syria. And when he addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee, Votel warned that an ISIS resurgence is possible.

“We do have to keep pressure on this network,” Voted told senators. “It is a resilient network. It does have certain components that are still left in it. Although they are dispersed and disaggregated, they have the capability of coming back together if we don’t.”

Continuing to “keep pressure” on ISIS, Votel stressed, “is absolutely vital.”


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