White House official adds to confusion about Trump’s Syria decision

A senior administration official on Wednesday declined to comment on whom if anyone President Trump consulted before declaring that ISIS had been defeated and that US troops would be coming home from Syria.

The official, speaking to reporters during a background briefing, also would not say whether any troops were actually on the way back to the US, or provide any details on the timetable for their return.

The official referred those questions to the Pentagon, which referred them back to the administration.

US policy had been to keep boots on the ground in Syria to prevent ISIS from establishing a caliphate, and to train local forces.

Asked about Trump’s abrupt decision to change course, the official said the president has that authority.

“He gets to do that,” the official said.

Asked about criticism from GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of several top Republicans who panned Trump’s move, the official said critics were entitled to their opinions.

Trump also did not discuss in advance his decision to pull troops out of Syria with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, the senior official said.

“The president made his own decision. It was not something he discussed with President Erdogan. He has informed President Erdogan of his decision,” said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

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