Donald Trump Calls Syria 'Sand and Death,' Says 'We're Not Talking About Vast Wealth'

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called Syria "sand and death" in a question-and-answer session with reporters following a cabinet meeting.

Asked about a timeline for withdrawing troops from the country, the president described how he viewed the country and the fighting there.

"We're talking about sand and death, that's what we're talking about," Trump said. "We're not talking about vast wealth. We're talking about sand and death."

The president also said Syria was "lost long ago."

Trump suddenly announced he would remove troops from Syria last month. On Wednesday, he declined to give a firm timetable for removing troops, instead saying it would be "over a period of time."

Some observers were wary of the move, saying it abandoned allies fighting in the country. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced his resignation soon thereafter.

"My view on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion on these issues," Mattis, a former U.S. Marine Corps general, wrote in his resignation letter. "We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances."

Trump has repeatedly defended the move. He tweeted this week, for instance: "I am the only person in America who could say, "I'm bringing our great troops back home, with victory," and get BAD press. It is Fake News and Pundits who have FAILED for years that are doing the complaining. If I stayed in Endless Wars forever, they would still be unhappy!"

Trump made wide-ranging comments on Wednesday when speaking with press, addressing everything from the government shutdown to the border wall to Mitt Romney.

donald trump, syria, sand, death,
President Donald Trump speaks at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, on December 26, 2018. Trump on Wednesday called Syria “sand and death” in a question-and-answer session with reporters following a cabinet meeting. Saul Loeb /AFP / Getty Images
Donald Trump Calls Syria 'Sand and Death,' Says 'We're Not Talking About Vast Wealth' | U.S.