Trump forces out Mattis on January 1, two months earlier than expected

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the news media while gathering for a briefing from his senior military leaders, including Defense Secretary James Mattis (L), in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday said he was replacing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Jan. 1 with deputy defense secretary Patrick Shanahan in an acting capacity after Mattis resigned over policy differences and offered to stay in his post for two more months.

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Trump was irked by the attention given to Mattis’ resignation letter, which implicitly criticized Trump’s foreign policies and his treatment of military allies after the president’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.

Trump announced Shanahan’s appointment in a tweet, calling the former Boeing Co (BA.N) executive “very talented”.

In a shock announcement on Wednesday, Trump said he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, a decision that upended American policy in the region.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Steve Holland; Writing by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Daniel Wallis

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