United States general warns of IS threat ahead of planned Syria pullout

United States general warns of IS threat ahead of planned Syria pullout

"The coalition's hard-won battlefield gains can only be secured by maintaining a vigilant offensive against the now largely dispersed and disaggregated ISIS that retains leaders, fighters, facilitators, resources and the profane ideology that fuels their efforts".

Trump made his decision to withdraw the USA troops after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had said Istanbul would lead the fight against IS remnants in Syria.

"While I understand and respect President Trump's desire to bring our troops home and to end these protracted wars, we must do so in a way that ensures enduring stability and protects our interests and those of our allies, the need for caution and reflection as we consider troops withdrawals", South Dakota Republican John Thune said late last week in arguing for the reprimand of the president's decision.

A Defense Department watchdog report released Monday says the Islamic State group "remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that "could likely resurge in Syria" absent continued counterterrorism pressure". It led both Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and the US's top envoy to OIR Brett McGurk to resign.

Votel warned that ISIS could regroup with the removal of US troops, meaning the military will have to "keep pressure on this network" even after withdrawal.

Despite Trump's decision, America still has 2,000 or so troops in Syria and only non-essential gear has been pulled. USA policy has been to keep troops in place until the extremists are eradicated.

More news: US employers add robust 304K jobs; joblessness up to 4 pct

Unmoved by the rare opposition from his very own party, President Trump, during a recent television interview, insisted that his promise to bring United States troops home was "a big part" of the reason that he was elected.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey during a bill signing ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2018.

"We're at 99 percent right now, we'll be at 100", he said on CBS' "Face the Nation".

He added the planning for a withdrawal includes devising ways to keep pressure on ISIS, but he declined to discuss strategies in an unclassified setting.

The report, citing information from US Central Command, said Islamic State would portray the withdrawal as a "victory" and conduct attacks on American personnel during the pullout process.

Trump's Syria withdrawal has also fueled rare, vocal opposition from within his own Republican party. The aim of the conference is to recommit the coalition to that aim and ensure that the departure of USA troops does not overly complicate that mission.

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