President Donald Trump has made a surprise announcement that US forces will be withdrawing from Syria, citing the defeat of Islamic State and the need to defend US borders and rebuild “crumbling” infrastructure.

“We’re coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” Trump said during a speech in Richfield, Ohio on Thursday, dedicated to his infrastructure initiative.

Pres. Trump: “We’ll be coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now…We’re going to have 100% of the caliphate, as they call it —sometimes referred to as land. We’re taking it all back.” pic.twitter.com/N9cPYkS6pk

— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) March 29, 2018

The US spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, Trump said, describing how the US would build schools only for insurgents to destroy them, while there was no funding to build schools in Ohio.

“We build a school, they blow it up. We rebuild the school, they haven’t blown it up yet, but they will,” he said.

The president also pointed out the “wall” and 32,000 US troops guarding the border between North and South Korea, while the US border with Mexico was not likewise protected.

“Is there something a little bit wrong with that?” he asked the crowd.

Trump’s remarks about Syria are in line with what he said last month, at a press conference in Washington with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

“We’re there for one reason: to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS, and to go home,” the US president had said. “We’re not there for any other reason and we’ve largely accomplished our goal.”

However, this goes against the previous pronouncements of his subordinates at the State Department and the military.

In January, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined a plan that envisioned extended US presence in Syria to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to a “post-Assad leadership.” In December last year, the Pentagon said US troops would remain in Syria for “as long as we need to, to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.”

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