Photo: AP
US troops in Syria
Photo: AP

Israel says will study US pullout from Syria, ensure its own security

Russia hails US decision to withdraw, while Trump comes under fire from Republican lawmakers, British ally; Pentagon: withdrawal already underway

Israel will study the US decision to pull its forces from Syria and will ensure its own security, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday. 



Netanyahu in a statement said he had spoken over the past two days with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about their intention to withdraw troops from Syria.


"They made clear they have other ways to have influence in the area," Netanyahu said.


"We will study the timeline, how it will be done and of course the implications for us. In any case, we will make sure to maintain Israel's security and protect ourselves from this arena," he said. 


Russia's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said the US decision to withdraw creates prospects for political settlement to the years-long, bloody Syrian civil war, according to the TASS news agency.


TASS also cited the ministry as saying that an initiative to form a Syrian constitutional committee had a bright future with the US troop withdrawal.


Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Russian President Vladimir Putin's support is believed by many to have turned the tide of the war in Assad's favor.


Russian President Vladimir Putin with Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad  (Photo: Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad (Photo: Reuters)


Trump tweeted that the troops would be leaving as the US had defeated ISIS, which he said was his sole reason for being in Syria.


But in the UK, minister in the Defense Ministry Tobias Ellwood used Trump's favored means of communication to express his disapproval of the decision.  


"I strongly disagree," Ellwood tweeted in response to Trump's claim that Islamic State had been defeated. He warned that the organization "has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive."


In the US, senior members of Trump's own Republican Party denounced the decision as having a far-reaching, negative impact.


Withdrawing the troops, said Senator Lindsey Graham, a recent staunch supporter of the president, would be "a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Russia."


Fellow GOP Senator Marco Rubio also condemned the move, saying that a full, rapid withdrawal would be a "grave error" that had implications beyond the battle against Islamic State. 


An American military base in Syria (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
An American military base in Syria (Photo: AFP)


The Pentagon said Wednesday that the process of withdrawing had already begun, while a US official said that the full redeployment would take between 60-100 days.


"The Coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.


"We have started the process of returning US troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign," she said.


"For force protection and operational security reasons we will not provide further details. We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates."


פרסום ראשון: 12.19.18, 19:44
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