U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to reverse course on his desire to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, now saying that they will stay there and in Iraq to combat Iran, which he stated is a “real problem.”
“We’re going to be there, and we’re going to be staying. We have to protect Israel,” he told CBS News’s Margaret Brennan on Sunday. “We have to protect other things that we have. But we’re—yeah, they’ll be coming back in a matter of time.”
“This is what a lot of people don’t understand,” added Trump.“We’re going to keep watching, and we’re going to keep seeing, and if there’s trouble—if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things—we’re going to know it before they do.”
The president elaborated that because the United States has “an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq,” the Al Asad Air Base in the western part of the country, “it’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up.”
“I want to be able to watch Iran,” he said. “Iran is a real problem.”
This development came as the president faced backlash over the planned withdrawal that included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introducing an amendment last week that warns against a “precipitous withdrawal” of troops from Syria or Afghanistan. It passed a cloture vote.