Top U.S. General Joseph Votel: Trump Is Wrong on Syria and ISIS

The top U.S. general responsible for leading the war against ISIS has launched an extraordinary attack on the commander in chief. Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told CNN in an interview Friday that President Donald Trump was wrong to pull troops out of Syria. “It would not have been my military advice at that particular time,” he said. Votel also said the president was premature in declaring victory over ISIS: “When I say ‘We have defeated them,’ I want to ensure that means they do not have the capability to plot or direct attacks against the U.S. or our allies.” The top military leader also suggested there would be dangerous repercussions to Trump’s decision; he said the Syrian Democratic Forces were not capable of defeating ISIS without U.S. support. Trump’s Syria withdrawal led to the resignation of James Mattis as defense secretary and the senior State Department official in charge of the fight against ISIS, but it is extremely rare for a serving U.S. general to directly criticize a sitting president.