'We have defeated ISIS in Syria': U.S. plans to withdraw troops

20 December, 2018, 05:44 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Trump Declares Victory In Syria As U.S. Moves To Withdraw All Troops 'As Quickly As Possible'

Trump tweeted on Wednesday: "We have defeated Isis in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency".

That said, many foreign policy officials think Trump's decision s a mistake, with The New York Times reporting that "Pentagon officials were still trying to talk the president out of the decision early Wednesday morning, arguing that such a move would betray Kurdish allies who have fought alongside American troops in Syria and who could find themselves under attack in a military offensive now threatened by Turkey".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who remains concerned about Iranian efforts in the area, reacted in noncommittal fashion after talking with Trump by telephone.

"Even as the end of the physical caliphate is clearly now coming into sight, the end of ISIS will be a much more long-term initiative", McGurk told a State Department briefing on December 11.

The decision upends assumptions about a longer-term U.S. military presence in Syria, which U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior U.S. officials had advocated to help ensure Islamic State can not reemerge.

Just last week, the US special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, said USA troops would remain in Syria even after the Islamic State was driven from its strongholds.

As guarded as this response may sound - imagine Netanyahu's fury if Barack Obama had made a similar decision - it can not cover up the serious disagreement between the Israeli government and the Trump administration.

"Nobody is declaring a mission accomplished". The US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have had some recent success against the terror group and are on the cusp of capturing the last major town held by ISIS east of the Euphrates.

Sanders did not specify a timetable for withdrawing the estimated 2,000 USA troops in the region or how many troops have already returned home.

A complete withdrawal of USA troops from Syria would still leave a sizeable US military presence in the region, including about 5,200 troops across the border in Iraq. It was not immediately known what effect the troop withdrawal would have on ongoing air operations in Syria.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

Some analysts said the news will mark the fulfillment of a major Trump campaign promise and indicates the US believes its war on the Islamic State is coming to an end.

Just last week Turkey warned it was planning to launch an operation against US-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria "in the next few days".

The US decision to withdraw from Syria marks a remarkable development not just for the Kurds, but for years-old US doctrine in the region.

The Kurdish force has yet to issue an official response to Washington's decision to withdraw troops, which was announced by both the Pentagon and the White House on Wednesday.

The decision to withdraw marks a shocking development not just for Kurds in Syria, but for long-established USA doctrine in the region.

The American presence in Syria, therefore, is still necessary, even though they are small in numbers.

Syrian schoolchildren walk as USA troops patrol near the Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria November 4, 2018.

The U.S. has some 2,000 military members in Syria and ISIS has been reduced to a single stronghold near the Iraq border. "They were always there to destroy the territorial caliphate of ISIS", said a senior administration official.

As recently as this month, USA officials were telling Al-Monitor they believed they had unique leverage to bring Russian Federation and Iran, which would soon seek to stop paying Assad's mounting military bills, to the bargaining table. Turkish officials expressed caution as the details of the USA plan remained unclear. "ISIS will re-emerge, Iran a greater threat, will own all of Syria, Israel more in danger".



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