"I want to get out—I want to bring our troops back home," President Trump said, referring to Syria, during a press conference Tuesday. But on Wednesday, the White House announced that US troops will remain in the country, the New York Times reports. Trump had said Tuesday that since "we were very successful against ISIS," it was "time to come back home." But in Wednesday's statement, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that while "the military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed," the US and its partners "remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated." A senior administration official tells Reuters that in a National Security Council meeting Tuesday, Trump agreed to keep troops in Syria longer, but not much longer.
The Washington Post, also citing a senior administration official, reports that on Tuesday Trump instructed military leaders to get ready to pull troops from Syria, though a timetable was not set; NBC News also cites a senior official who said Trump only "reluctantly" agreed to let troops remain for now. Reuters' unnamed official predicted troops would only stay for a year or less. In the Times' view, it seems that Trump's top military advisers have convinced him that keeping the 2,000 American forces still in Syria is integral to ensuring ISIS doesn't regain its foothold there. But the Post takes a slightly different tack, reporting that it appears Trump is still determined not to leave the ongoing military presence in Syria that top military advisers think is necessary. Trump surprised his advisers last week with a public statement that US troops would leave Syria "like, very soon," and during the Tuesday news conference, he said that he recently told King Salman of Saudi Arabia that if the king wanted US troops "to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay."