President Trump defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and begin a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan after the mainstream media and neocons accused him of being premature.

During a Cabinet meeting in the White House on Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his decision to pull out of Syria and begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan.

“We don’t want Syria. We’re talking about sand & death. That’s what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about vast wealth. We’re talking about sand and death,” Trump told reporters.

Trump then reminded the media that regional neighbors like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and India have more incentive to defeat ISIS than the U.S. because they pose a direct threat to their national interests.

“Russia’s not happy, you know why they’re not happy? Because they like it when we’re killing ISIS, because we’re killing them for them. And we’re killing them for Assad. And we’re killing ISIS also for Iran,” Trump said.

“We were supposed to be out of Syria many years ago. If you remember, we went to Syria for some spot hits, and that was five years ago, and we never left. I don’t want to be in Syria. I want to rebuild our country.”

His statements come after former Gen. James Mattis stepped down last month as Secretary of Defense over Trump’s decision to wind down the Middle East wars.

Shortly after, Trump took a jab at Mattis and the other military leaders who discouraged his decision to withdraw troops, saying they were the brains that led to the rise of ISIS in the first place.

“General Anthony Tata, author, ‘Dark Winter.’ I think the President is making the exact right move in Syria. All the geniuses who are protesting the withdrawal of troops from Syria are the same geniuses who cooked the books on ISIS intelligence and gave rise to ISIS,” he tweeted.

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