On Dec. 19, Donald Trump shocked his own military advisers by falsely claiming on Twitter that the Islamic State had been defeated in Syria. The same day, in a video posted to Twitter, Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS.”
“So our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now,” he added.
Later, it was reported that Trump wanted to withdraw approximately 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria within 30 days.
The announcement prompted the resignations of both Defense Secretary James Mattis and the U.S. envoy for the coalition fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk.
On Sunday, barely two weeks later, National Security Adviser John Bolton said there is no timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. During a visit to Israel, Bolton said the U.S. wouldn’t pull troops out until ISIS had been fully defeated, and after the U.S. had reached an agreement with Turkey to protect members of the Kurdish militia who are fighting alongside the U.S., the Associated Press reported.
“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton said in Jerusalem, according to the AP. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.”
Bolton heads to Turkey on Monday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who most likely convinced Trump during a phone call to withdraw troops in the first place.
According to The Washington Post, Trump initially had agreed to extend the 30-day schedule to four months, but that date is out the window now, too, according to White House aides.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, Trump told reporters on Sunday that he never claimed to be removing troops quickly from Syria. “We are pulling back in Syria. We’re going to be removing our troops. I never said we’re doing it that quickly, but we’re decimating ISIS,” Trump said.
Here’s the Dec. 19 video in which Trump said troops are coming home “now”:
So, to recap: