President Trump’s order to withdraw essentially all U.S. forces from northern Syria came after the commander in chief privately agitated for days to bring troops home, according to administration officials — even while the Pentagon was making public assurances that the United States was not abandoning its Kurdish allies in the region.
The officials, granted anonymity to describe internal deliberations, described Trump as “doubling down” and “undeterred,” despite vociferous pushback from congressional Republicans who have been loath to challenge the president with few exceptions, such as national security.
Behind the scenes, Trump has tried to persuade advisers and lawmakers that the United States is not to blame for Turkey’s military offensive, which has targeted Kurdish fighters who have aided the U.S. fight against the Islamic State.
But experts — and many Republicans — say otherwise. And even Trump allies say the president needs to do a better job of selling the troop withdrawal to the public, beyond tweets.
The escalating crisis in northern Syria has prompted further criticism from foreign policy heavyweights in Trump’s party, who argue that the president’s strategies abroad send a concerning message to allies and endanger regional partners.