In a surprise move on Wednesday that appears to have pleased Russian President Vladimir Putin and almost no one else, Donald Trump announced that United States troops would completely withdraw from Syria because, Trump said in a December 19 Twitter post, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria.” But according to national security experts cited by Military Times, ISIS has not been defeated in Syria.
In fact, as recently as October 28, the terror group launched a large-scale counter-offensive in Syria, killing 40 U.S.-backed Syrian troops while capturing an undetermined number of others, while recapturing territory near the Iraqi border that ISIS had earlier lost in the fighting, according to an Associated Press report.
A chorus of Republican Senators have spoken out against Trump’s Syria decision, as Axios reported, and NATO allies including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have expressed disapproval of Trump’s Syria pullout, as Axios noted in a separate report.
But Trump also encountered scathing criticism from an unlikely source on the domestic front — his favorite morning television show, the Fox News program Fox & Friends. On Thursday’s Fox & Friends program, regular co-host Brain Kilmeade tore into Trump, calling his decision “irresponsible,” and contradicting Trump’s declaration of victory over ISIS, as seen in the video below. Thursday was the second day in a row that Fox & Friends had broken with Trump and sharply criticized him, as Inquisitr reported.
“He is doing exactly, if not worse, than what President Obama did,” Kilmeade declared, as quoted by the Daily Beast. “Nobody thinks ISIS is defeated. Nobody who understands, who was born after 2000, who sees what’s happened since 9/11. By the way, Brett McGurk, his personal envoy, just gave a speech last week saying ISIS is there, they’re still a factor, they’re far from defeated. There’s 30,000 there.”
Trump is a regular viewer of Fox & Friends, as Politico has documented, and he appears to be watching as Kilmeade attacked him on the show because Trump quickly responded with a series of messages on his own Twitter feed.
“Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there (sic) work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA.”
There was one foreign leader who expressed full support for Trump’s move to get U.S. troops out of Syria, however — Putin. Russia retains a heavy military presence in Syria, according to CNN, carrying out frequent bombing raids and other military operations in support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The Russian Defense Ministry has said that 48,000 Russian troops were deployed to Syria last year, and 63,000 have seen combat there over the last three years, the BBC reported.
“The fact that the U.S. has decided to withdraw its troops is right,” the Russian president said at a Thursday press conference, adding that he agrees with Trump that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, according to a report by the Washington Post.