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Tipsheet

Pentagon Denies Being 'Blindsided' After Trump Pulls Troops Out of Northern Syria

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The Pentagon issued a statement on Tuesday denying they were caught off guard when President Trump ordered U.S. troops out of northern Syria.

The White House announced late Sunday night the withdrawal is occurring because "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria" and the United States will not be involved. It was reported the Pentagon was "completely blindsided" by the order.

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Trump had a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to finalize the pullout.

"Despite continued misreporting to the contrary, Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley were consulted over the last several days by the President regarding the situation and efforts to protect U.S. forces in northern Syria in the face of military action by Turkey," Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

"The Department's position has been and remains that establishing a safe zone in northern Syria is the best path forward to maintaining stability," he continued. "Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally. As a result, we have moved the U.S. forces in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety. We have made no changes to our force presence in Syria at this time."

Amid a wave of backlash from both Republicans and Democrats, Trump defended the decision because he says he was voted to stop U.S. involvement in "endless wars."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the pullout of American forces in that part of the country "would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup."

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