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US official admits misleading Trump on US troop numbers in Syria

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American Military News

US official admits misleading Trump on US troop numbers in Syria

by Ryan Morgan

Outgoing Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, admitted in an interview with Defense One to misleading President Donald Trump about the true number of U.S. troops deployed in Syria and convincing the president not to withdraw troops.

Jeffrey said, “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there.” Jeffrey said the actual number of troops in northeast Syria is “a lot more than” the approximately 200 troops Trump agreed to keep in the country in 2019.

According to anonymous sources who spoke with Defense One, the true number of U.S. troops in Syria is said to be around 900, though the precise number is classified and reportedly remains unknown even to Trump and other members of his administration hoping to bring U.S. troops out of foreign engagements.

Trump called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria at the end of 2018 and again in October 2019, both times receiving pushback. Despite calling for the withdrawals, both times Trump was convinced to leave a contingent of U.S. troops in the county.

“What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal,” Jeffrey told Defense One. “When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”

Full story https://americanmilitarynews.com/2020/11/us-official-admits-misleading-trump-on-us-troop-numbers-in-syria/