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Trump agrees to keep U.S. troops in Syria for undetermined period of time to defeat ISIS

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Mattis told the president the Pentagon was already reducing the number of U.S. forces and would continue to do so, though he did not give the president a set time frame for the end of the U.S. mission in Syria, the official said. The official said Trump “wasn’t thrilled about that either,” but agreed to give the effort more time.

“The president made his displeasure clear about any kind of long-term presence in Syria,” the official said, adding that Trump said he wants other countries in the region to help fund the country’s reconstruction.

In a statement Wednesday, the White House said the U.S. mission in Syria was “coming to a rapid end.”

“The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed. The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans. We expect countries in the region and beyond, plus the United Nations, to work toward peace and ensure that ISIS never re-emerges.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said earlier Wednesday morning that he and the rest of Trump’s national security team had engaged in “significant” discussions with the White House Tuesday about the future of the U.S. mission in Syria.

The U.S. has around 2,000 forces on the ground fighting the terrorist group.

Tuesday’s meeting followed a scramble by Trump’s national security aides to address his recent threat to pull out all U.S. forces from Syria.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump said he wanted to get out of Syria and bring U.S. troops back home — only moments after his top advisers said publicly that the fight against ISIS was not finished.

 A convoy of U.S. troops drive on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria, on March 31, 2018. Hussein Malla / AP

“I want to get back, I want to rebuild our nation,” Trump said, reiterating comments about withdrawal that he made last week. “It’s time. We were very successful against ISIS; we’ll be successful against anybody militarily, but sometimes it’s time to come back home. And we’re thinking about that very seriously.”

The president, speaking at a joint news conference at the White House with the leaders of the Baltic states, did not give a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops but said a decision would be made soon.

Just minutes earlier, however, the president’s envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, had stressed that the job was not finished.

“We are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission,” McGurk said, standing alongside Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “Our mission is not over. And we are going to complete that mission.”

U.S. and coalition partners on the ground have taken control of almost 95 percent of the territory in Syria once held by ISIS, but U.S. officials have said their remaining presence will prove difficult to eliminate quickly and could take months.

Votel, for his part, stressed on Tuesday the importance of stabilization in Syria, and said the U.S. military can help.

“The hard part, I think, is in front of us, and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes,” Votel said.

Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube reported from Washington, and Adam Edelman from New York.

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SNP crisis as Sturgeon's own minister reported over breach of code: 'Total contempt'

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AN SNP minister has been reported over breaching the Scottish Government’s ministerial code after making a parliamentary statement on the ongoing ambulance crisis.

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France ‘throws toys out of pram’ as fears grow over Channel fishing punishment

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FRANCE could use the ongoing AUKUS security pact crisis as a form of revenge in the Jersey fishing dispute, a minister has claimed.

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France bulks up military with mega cash injection as budget soars to €41BN – up €1.7BN

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EMMANUEL MACRON announced a huge increase in spending for the French Armed Forces, in his latest bid to win over voters ahead of next year’s Presidential elections.

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