"I was not aware" before Trump made his troop-pullout announcement, he added, while saying that Central Command was 'aware he had expressed a desire and intent in the past.to depart Syria'.
In the CBS interview Mr Trump defended his recent decision to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in neighbouring Syria to support a Kurdish-led militia alliance seeking to capture the last pocket of IS territory there.
Votel also rebuffed the president's assertion in the same interview that the US will hold a base in Iraq because "I want to be able to watch Iran", a rationale that has provoked an uproar in Afghanistan. His "little serpent" reference was to Saddam Hussein, who was overthrown that year after the U.S.
"They're starting to, as we gain the remainder, the final remainder of the caliphate of the area, they'll be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately some will be coming home", Trump said when asked when the troops in Syria would be returning.
In an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation", Trump said the USA had spent a "fortune" on the Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, which he visited in December, and that it was "perfectly situated" to watch different parts of the Middle East.
The U.S. and North Korea have been making arrangements for a second summit between Trump and Kim for months, with North Korea's lead negotiator visiting the White House in January. He added that he would wait for clarifications from Washington on the numbers and nature of the USA troops' mission in his country.
'We do have to keep pressure on this network.
"When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria". After that country's opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself president (reportedly at the urging of Vice President Mike Pence), the Trump administration quickly recognized him as the legitimate head of state, withdrawing its recognition of the embattled, increasingly authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro.
USA officials tell Reuters that the military has already started the withdrawal process, adding hundreds of troops to Syria to facilitate a safe pullout. He added that details about the pace of that withdrawal are now being developed with US allies and partners.
Separately, the USA called on nations around the world to take back their citizens who fought for Islamic State and are now being held by the SDF in Syria. The general said the U.S.is "there at the invitation" of Iraq for the objective of defeating Islamic State.
"It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran" and other neighbouring countries, Salih added.