US Senate breaks from Trump with Syria troop vote

06 February, 2019, 07:09 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at press conference with foreign media in Bnei Brak

ISIS militants have lost territory since Trump's surprise announcement in December that he was pulling USA forces out of Syria, but a Defence Department watchdog report released Monday warns the fighters could regroup within six months to a year after the Americans leave. "Certainly we were aware that he had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart Syria", US Central Command head General Joseph Votel, who is retiring in the coming weeks, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

During the withdrawal, "We should expect that they [ISIS fighters] will attempt to attack us and regenerate themselves, and we will continue to put pressure on them to prevent that", Votel said.

"I was not consulted", the general said.

The top general overseeing USA military actions in the Middle East said Tuesday that President Donald Trump did not consult him ahead of the decision to pull United States troops from Syria.

The government of Cameroon has apologized to Israel for an incendiary remark made by one of its officials describing the Nazi.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has since stated that the USA will only withdraw once ISIS is defeated and the safety of allied Kurdish fighters is secured, although Trump said plans remain unchanged.

Mr Trump's December announcement about withdrawing troops from Syria came as a shock to both USA allies and his own officials.

It warned that "a precipitous withdrawal" could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russian Federation.

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"It is important to understand that even though this territory has been reclaimed, the fight against ISIS and violent extremists is not over and our mission has not changed", said Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command. It has begun to withdraw equipment from Syria and is expected to begin the drawdown of personnel soon.

Officials said that overall, about 2,000 ISIS militants remain in Syria.

On Monday, the Pentagon published a report which said Daesh could make a resurgence in the region without counterterrorism pressure.

U.S. officials in recent weeks say Islamic State has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and is holding on to fewer than 10 square kilometres of turf in Syria - an area smaller than New York's Central Park.

The 18-page report to the UN Security Council, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, described Islamic State as "by far the most ambitious global terrorist group, and the one most likely to conduct a large-scale, complex attack in the near future".

Last week, USA intelligence chiefs also broke with the president, saying Islamic State would continue to pursue attacks from Syria, as well as Iraq, against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.

"Foreign terrorist fighters leaving the conflict zone, or prior returnees becoming active again on release from prison or for other reasons, will increase the threat", the report warned.

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