The Latest: US officials to discuss Syria in Turkey, Israel

December 31, 2018 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Syria (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser will be traveling to Israel and Turkey in early January to discuss what the White House says is the “deliberate and coordinated” withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria.

National security adviser John Bolton also will be discussing increased cooperation with the Turkish military and other partners.

Bolton’s spokesman, Garrett Marquis, said in a statement Monday that Bolton will be joined in Turkey with Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and James Jeffrey, the secretary of state’s special representative for Syria engagement.

On Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Trump had initiated a “pause” on his surprise decision to withdraw all roughly 2,000 American troops in Syria. Trump has faced bipartisan criticism since announcing the drawdown two weeks ago.


10:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is complaining that he’s getting “bad press” for his decision to pull American troops out of Syria. He tweeted Monday that he’s just making good on his campaign promise against U.S. involvement in “never ending wars.”

Trump says he’s withdrawing 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. He said Islamic State militants are “mostly gone” and he wants to bring the troops home. A drawdown of troops in Afghanistan also appears to be in the works.

The decision was roundly criticized by his national security advisers and prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to step down.

Trump says he’s the only person in America who could say “I’m bringing our great troops back home, with victory” and get “bad press.”