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Bolton: US Will Stay in Syria as Long as It Takes

He says there's no longer a fixed timetable
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2019 6:21 AM CST
US National Security Advisor John Bolton, left, speaks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint statement to the media follow their meeting, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, Pool)
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(Newser) – The timeline for the withdrawal of American troops from Syria has gone from 30 days to four months and now to no fixed date, according to John Bolton. He said "certain objectives" must be met before an American withdrawal could happen, the Washington Post reports. Bolton said there was no fixed timetable and some US troops would remain, at least in the south of the country. When he announced the withdrawal last month, a move that led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, among others, Trump said: "Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they're coming back now. We won." But on Sunday, Trump told reporters he "never said we're doing it that quickly."

Bolton, speaking during a visit to Israel, said American forces would not fully withdraw until ISIS was fully defeated and Turkey had assured the safety of Kurdish forces allied with the US, the Telegraph reports. "Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see." Sen. Lindsey Graham, asked on CBS' Face the Nation if Trump was admitting his earlier announcement was a mistake, said the president was "slowing down and re-evaluating his policies," the New York Times reports. "This is the reality setting in that you’ve got to plan this out," he said. (An American teacher has been captured in Syria.)

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