Brett McGurk resigns in protest to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, official familiar with McGurk's resignation letter says.
Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the global coalition fighting Daesh, has resigned in protest to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, officials who saw his resignation letter said on Saturday.
McGurk joins Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in an exodus of experienced national security officials.
Only 11 days ago, McGurk had said it would be "reckless" to consider Daesh defeated and therefore would be unwise to bring American forces home.
He decided to speed up his plan to leave in mid-February.
McGurk, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2015 and retained by Trump, said in his resignation letter that Daesh was on the run, but not yet defeated, and that the premature pullout of American forces from Syria would create the conditions that gave rise to the group.
His letter, submitted on Friday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was described by an official familiar with its contents.
The official was not authorised to publicly discuss the matter before the letter was released and spoke on condition of anonymity.
McGurk also cited gains in accelerating the campaign against Daesh, but that the work was not yet done.
McGurk, whose resignation is effective December 31, was planning to leave the job in mid-February after a US-hosted meeting of foreign ministers from the coalition countries, but he felt he could continue no longer after Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and Mattis' resignation, according to the official.
Trump played down the development, tweeting on Saturday night that "I do not know" the envoy and it's a "nothing event."
Trump is acting to pull all 2,000 US troops from Syria and has now declared victory over Daesh, contradicting his own experts' assessments. Many lawmakers have called his action rash and dangerous.
I am in the White House, working hard. News reports concerning the Shutdown and Syria are mostly FAKE. We are negotiating with the Democrats on desperately needed Border Security (Gangs, Drugs, Human Trafficking & more) but it could be a long stay. On Syria, we were originally...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2018
....going to be there for three months, and that was seven years ago - we never left. When I became President, ISIS was going wild. Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2018
Mattis, perhaps the most respected foreign policy official in the administration, announced on Thursday that he will leave by the end of February.
He told Trump in a letter that he was departing because "you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours."
US' anti-Daesh fight
The US began air strikes in Syria in 2014, and ground troops moved in the following year to battle Daesh in a country torn apart by civil war. Trump, in a tweet this past week, declared their mission accomplished.
The decision will fulfill Trump's goal of bringing troops home from Syria, but military leaders have pushed back for months, arguing that Daesh remains a threat and could regroup in Syria's long-running civil war.