United States announces it is pulling all troops out of Syria
Dec 20, 2018, 01:47
In late September, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the US would remain in Syria until ISIS is defeated and unable to re-emerge once American forces leave.
The Trump administration said the U.S. stood ready with its allies "to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary".
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has also suggested that a precipitous withdrawal could enable militants to make a comeback, as they did in Iraq before the Islamic State's rise in 2014.
As IJR Newsreported, officials are weighing complete withdrawal, as there are now about 2,000 troops in Syria, many in special operations forces.
President Donald Trump is facing harsh criticism from two Republican senators in response to his decision to pull American troops out of Syria.
On Wednesday morning, the Trump administration announced that the United States has nearly completed its mission against the Islamic State terrorist group and will now "transition to the next phase of this campaign", which appears to be a full withdrawal from Syria.
The National Counterterrorism Center's guidance from October suggests that while efforts to contain ISIS have seen substantial successes this year, the terror network remains "an adaptive and unsafe adversary", and in Iraq and Syria, its leaders are relocating to rural safe havens to "support a long-term insurgency".
On December 5, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned against the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria's troubled eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, saying that Daesh Takfiri terrorists are putting local residents to death. The Washington Post reported that Mattis and other senior national security officials have tried to convince Trump not to withdraw U.S. troops, saying the move would betray the Kurds, and make local fighters in other countries wary of partnering with the United States.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said the withdrawal would be a "grave error with broader implications" beyond the fight against ISIS. He said it would also put America's Kurdish allies at risk. Russia's position has always been that USA forces should not be in Syria.
Kinzinger likened the withdrawal and Trump's proclamation to Barack Obama withdrawing US troops from Iraq in 2011, allowing ISIS to form and grow in the ensuing years.
Russian officials expressed cautious satisfaction with Trump's decision.
Separate statements from the White House and the Pentagon claimed that the United States was embarking on a process of withdrawing its troops from the country.
The U.S. military believes ISIS still has several thousand jihadis in Syria. The Department of Defense and the bipartisan foreign policy class are infuriated by the decision to withdraw from Syria, but given their failed strategic approach to the region, they only have themselves to blame for the president's decision to end the mission. Lindsey Graham said in a statement that pulling out troops would be an "Obama-like" mistake that would help terrorists in Syria, strengthen the rulers of Syria and Iran, and abandon Kurds who have joined Americans in the fight against the Islamic State.
A United States withdrawal could open Trump up to criticism if ISIS reemerged.
Vinograd, who worked on the National Security Council as the Director for Iraq, shared her experiences in troop reviews in that war torn country.
Although the formal objective of the troops is the defeat of the militants, the administration has broadly defined that goal as ensuring that the Islamic State can not reassert itself, that political stability has been achieved under United Nations resolutions for a new constitution and eventual elections, and that all Iranian and Iranian proxy forces have left the country.
"While the DoD reiterated its position that its mission remains the "enduring defeat" of ISIS, U.S. officials issued statements this quarter regarding Iran and Syria's ongoing civil war that raised questions about the duration of U.S. troops in Syria", the Pentagon's OIG noted.
The Mattis-led US strategy in Syria empowered Iran, Russia, and Turkey at the expense of our allies. "I am confident the president is on board with this".
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