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White House: Fight against ISIS in Syria coming to "rapid end"

Donald Trump gesturing with pointed finger.
Donald Trump at a luncheon with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Photo: Chris Kleponis, Pool / Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday the "military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed." An announcement on America's future military involvement in Syria will be made “relatively soon,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said, per the AP.

The big picture: If the U.S. pulls out, it would likely be a gift to Iran, Syria, and Russia, which have been backing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. It would also raise security concerns for Israel, which has called for stronger action to counter Iran’s presence and influence in Syria.

  • Trump’s national security team held an “all hands-on deck” conversation about how to proceed militarily in Syria, Coats told reporters Wednesday, per the AP.
  • Trump told reporters at the White House yesterday that he wants to "get out" of Syria as he believes the U.S. has completed its mission of defeating ISIS.
  • If the U.S. withdraws, this would harken back to Trump's campaign days when he railed against past U.S. leaders for ensnaring the U.S. in conflicts abroad.
  • It would contrast with Trump’s decision to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely even though he had said he wanted to withdraw troops there as well. What he said then: "My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

What the White House is saying this morning:

"The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed," Sarah Sanders said in a statement. She also said "The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated."
— White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders

Go deeper: The administration’s recent mixed messages on Syria.

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