A senior Israeli official said Israel was in shock over US President Donald Trump’s remarks appearing to give Iran an upper hand to “do what it wants” in Syria after the withdrawal of US troops.
“I am quite simply in shock,” the unnamed Israeli official said, according to a report by the Ynet news website. “Trump simply does not know what is happening in Syria and the Iranian entrenchment there.”
“It is sad that he is not attentive to intelligence materials,” the source added. He continued that Israel knows how to defend itself, and that Trump is not against Israeli acts in Syria.
Trump’s comments came two weeks after a disturbing decision to pull all American troops out of Syria, without getting back to relevant figures in his administration or consulting concerned allies in the Syrian file.
This decision pushed US Defense Secretary James Mattis to submit his resignation, a decision which the army disliked.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders in the Middle East intervened so Trump accepted to make the withdrawal gradual and to extend its duration from 30 days to four months.
Trump admitted Wednesday that the withdrawal will be in Iran’s favor. During a meeting for his administration, in the presence of some journalists, he said of Iranian forces in Syria: “They can do what they want there, frankly.”
Notably, government officials were shocked by decisions and statements made by Trump but refrained from criticizing them.