Haley: U.S. Troops Not Leaving Syria Until Goals Accomplished

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations also said a similar chemical attack to what happened in Syria could happen in the U.S. 'if we're not smart'

American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens as Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari speaks after a vote on a resolution during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018 at United Nations headquarters
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that the United States would not pull its troops out of Syria until its goals were accomplished.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Haley listed three aims for the United States: ensuring that chemical weapons are not used in any way that pose a risk to U.S. interests, that Islamic State is defeated and that there is a good vantage point to watch what Iran is doing.

It is our goal "to see American troops come home, but we are not going to leave until we know we have accomplished those things," Haley said.

“This very easily could happen in the United States if we're not smart, and if we're not conscious of what's happening," Haley warned Chris Wallace. 

“We have to be very conscious of the fact that we cannot allow even the smallest use of chemical weapons. That's why you saw the president strike this past weekend, that's why you saw him expel sixty Russian spies after the attack in Salisbury," she said. 

>> Read more: Attack is a win for Assad ■ There's Only One Show in Syria Right Now: A Battle Between Two Superpowers ■ How the Airstrikes Hit Their Targets Before Assad's Missile Defenses Even Fired >>

Trump, who on Friday joined France and Britain in ordering missile strikes against Syrian targets, has sent mixed signals on Syria.

He has made clear he wants to withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria involved in the anti-Islamic State campaign. But he appeared to contradict that message when he said on Saturday that Western allies were prepared to "sustain" the military response if Syrian President Bashar Assad does not stop using prohibited chemical weapons.

Asked about U.S.-Russia relations, Haley said ties were "very strained" but that the United States still hoped for a better relationship.

Trump’s view of the situation on Syria has shifted repeatedly in recent years. As a private citizen in 2013, he said Obama should “stay the hell out of Syria.” Trump condemned Obama for declaring that Syria’s use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” for the United States and he said it made Obama look weak when he didn’t follow through with a military strike after Assad used deadly gases against civilians.

Less than three months after Trump took office, the U.S. assessed that Assad had again used chemical weapons to kill Syrians.

Moved by the images of dead children, Trump stunned many of his own supporters by saying that the action had crossed “many, many lines” for him. He ordered a U.S. airstrike on a Syrian air base.

Since then, Trump’s views on the situation in Syria have evolved. Earlier this year, he began telling advisers that as soon as the U.S. could declare victory against IS, which has taken hold in Syria amid the chaos of the civil war, he wanted American troops out.

At a recent event in Ohio, Trump said of Syria: “Let other people take care of it now.”

Just one week later came the attack that drew Trump back in.