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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 15, 2018

    Netanyahu Asked Trump for Gradual Withdrawal of US Soldiers From Syria - Reports

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump during a recent phone call to only slowly withdraw US servicemembers from Syria over an extended period of time.

    The big ask was made during a December 20 phone conversation between the two world leaders, an unidentified Israeli official told reporters traveling with Netanyahu to Brazil on Monday. Netanyahu was heading to the South American country for the inauguration of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

    "The prime minister thinks that the US withdrawal from Syria presents an opportunity," Ynet News reported the official saying. "So far, the Iranian presence on the ground [in Syria] has not changed since the American decision."

    According to Axios, the Israeli official later noted that Israel would keep striking within Syrian territory. "We are going to continue the airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria regardless of the US policy. We have shown this already, and it is a message to the Iranians that we are not going to back down," the source reportedly said.

    The unidentified individual also reportedly told journalists that Bolsonaro is interested in purchasing attack drones from Israel and that the two leaders are making headway in talks to allow direct flights between Israel and Brazil over Africa, Bloomberg reported.

    Netanyahu is expected to speak with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday regarding US withdrawal from war-torn Syria, before engaging in a similar discussion with US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday and Monday.

    Trump announced earlier this month that US troops would be withdrawn from Syria, a move that was quickly met with criticism from US lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who referred to the move as an "Obama-like mistake."

    Since his initial announcement, POTUS has stayed firm to his vows, taking to Twitter on Monday to inform his millions of followers that the removal of US soldiers from Syria fulfilled his campaign promises. In his six-part Twitter message, 45 went on to defend his decision, stressing that the transition would be carried out "slowly… while at the same time fighting ISIS [Daesh] remnants."

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    Tags:
    US troops, withdrawal, Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel, Syria, United States, Brazil
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