Mattis Wishes US Troops Merry Christmas, Tells Them to ‘Hold the Line’

Chris Kleponis-Pool  Getty Images President Donald Trump with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at the White House

Mattis was also unhappy with Trump's order to develop plans to pull out up to half of the 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan.

The departure of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in a week will thrust President Donald Trump's largely unknown choice for acting Pentagon chief into the military hot seat and shift attention to the search for a permanent replacement who will probably face sharp Capitol Hill questioning about the administration's murky foreign policy.

Trump on Saturday said that the jihadist group "is largely defeated". "I am not going to provide more operational details at this time". "Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains". But Trump made a decision to hasten the process, announcing Sunday on Twitter that Shanahan would replace Mattis imminently. But as he consumed media coverage in the hours and days that followed Mattis' resignation, Trump vented to advisers about the narrative that took hold of the revered four-star Marine Corps general and military intellectual walking out on Trump because he believed the president's erratic decisions were threatening the world order. Brett McGurk, the US ISIS envoy, also announced he was quitting. US officials, however, said that the reaction to his decision to leave - including the shock and dismay expressed on Capitol Hill - annoyed Trump and likely led to Mattis leaving earlier than planned.

Mattis resigned in protest last week after Trump announced the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria over the strong objections of Mattis and others on the national security team.

"I think anyone who's looked at a conflict like this would agree with that".

Trump made the decision last week to withdraw USA forces from Syria and pull out about half of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, against the advice of his top aides and United States commanders.

Botlon mattis
Andrew Harrer-Pool Getty Images Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Mattis and national-security adviser John Bolton

"It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered", he said, according to the newspaper. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

The momentous reversal of years of USA foreign policy will leave the war-torn regions at risk of continued and potentially heightened bloodshed.

French President Emmanuel Macron has criticised President Trump's decision, saying "an ally must be reliable".

Analysts said the withdrawal of USA troops will leave the Kurdish forces, who are members of the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF, vulnerable. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area.

Aldar Khalil, a key player in establishing Syria's semi-autonomous Kurdish region in 2013, said the U.S. and its partners "must honor their commitments".

It was unclear whether Gen Mattis had been informed prior to the announcement.

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