WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he wanted to “get out” of Syria but offered no timetable, as his advisers warned of the hard work left to defeat Islamic State and stabilize areas recaptured from the hardline militant group.
Trump told a news conference the United States would “not rest until ISIS is gone,” using an acronym for the militant group. But he also suggested that victory was imminent.
The Pentagon and State Department have held that a longer term U.S. effort would be needed to ensure that Islamic State’s defeat is a lasting one.
“It’s time,” Trump told reporters, when asked if he was inclined to withdraw U.S. forces.
“We were very successful against (Islamic State). We’ll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it’s time to come back home, and we’re thinking about that very seriously.”
The United States is waging near-daily air strikes in Syria and has deployed about 2,000 troops on the ground, including U.S. special operations forces whose advising has helped Kurdish militia and other U.S.-backed fighters capture territory from Islamic State.
U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, who oversees U.S. troops in the Middle East as the head of Central Command, estimated on Tuesday that more than 90 percent of the group’s territory in Syria had been taken back from the militants since 2014.
Trump estimated the percentage of territory recaptured in Iraq and Syria at “almost 100 percent,” a…