U.S. defense officials routinely misled President Donald Trump on the number of American troops deployed in Syria, James Jeffrey, former Special Representative for Syria Engagement, revealed in an interview with Defense One that was released on November 12.
In October of 2019, Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. The decision was met with a backlash from officials in Washington as well as the media. As a result, the decision was de-facto reversed.
“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said.
Defense officials convinced President Trump to leave 200 troops to guard oil fields in the Syria’s northeastern region. However, according to Jeffery, the real number of troops was “a lot more than” 200. Some officials put the number as high as 900.
“What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal,” the senior diplomat, who left his post earlier this month, added.
Jeffery said each time Trump was tempted to withdraw troops from Syria, he and other officials would come up with “five better arguments for why we needed to stay.”
Currently, at least 500 U.S. troops are deployed in several bases in al-Hasakah and the part of Deir Ezzor, where Syria’s major oil fields are located. The U.S. military maintains a number of attack helicopters and infantry fighting vehicles in the region.
Jeffery’s interview with Defense One is a testimony to how the deep state in Washington works to prevent any shift or reform in U.S. foreign policy.
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