Two coalition personnel killed in Syria; Trump signals end of military presence

Two United States-led coalition personnel were killed in Syria and five others were wounded in a bomb attack, as President Donald Trump signaled ending U.S. military presence in the war-torn country.

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Military officials said the attack occurred Thursday night with an improvised explosive device. The identities and nationalities of the dead service members were not initially known.

“The names of the deceased will be released at the discretion of the pertinent national authorities,” The U.S. Central Command said in a statement. “Details pertaining to the incident are being withheld pending further investigation.”

Meanwhile, Trump contacted top officials regarding Syria Thursday, claiming the United States would soon be gone from the Arab country.

“We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” Trump said.

While giving an infrastructure speech in Ohio, the president said he wanted “other people” to take care of the Islamic State — which nearly 2,000 U.S. forces have been helping to fight against in Syria.

“By the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS,” Trump said in his speech. “We got to get back to our country where we belong, where we want to be.”

The announcement runs contrary to statements made by Trump’s top officials, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Both officials argued that a U.S. military presence must remain involved in the Syria war.

Mattis and Tillerson have also both said that U.S. military personnel would stay in Syria until the Islamic State was defeated and a new political process was underway.

“Trump has never believed it was worth investing significant American blood and treasure to try to sort out the problems of the Middle East,” Phil Gordon, who oversaw Syria policy as a senior national security aide in the Obama White House, told Politico.

“And if that view is somewhat different from that of Tillerson and Mattis, it’s even more different from the views of Pompeo and Bolton, who both put a premium on US leadership in the region, confrontation with Iran, and support overthrowing hostile, anti-American regimes like the one in Syria.”

By Sara Shayanian