US Defence Secretary James Mattis is resigning, the latest in a string of senior US officials to do so. His announcement came a day after President Trump said he was withdrawing troops from Syria – a decision General Mattis is understood to oppose.
In his resignation letter, Gen Mattis strongly hinted at policy differences with Mr Trump. He said the president had the right to appoint someone “whose views are better aligned with yours”.
The sixty-eight-year old will leave the job in February. President Trump has not immediately named a successor, but said one would be appointed shortly. While not mentioning the Syria troop pull-out directly, Gen Mattis had previously warned that an early withdrawal from the country would be a “strategic blunder”.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is also planning to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, US media say. Reports, citing unnamed officials, say about 7,000 troops – roughly half the remaining US military presence in the country – could go home within months.