US President Donald Trump confirmed that 400 US soldiers will remain in Syria indefinitely while once again promising a complete defeat of Islamic State terrorists in the war-torn country.
Trump had, apparently, been well-prepared to make the revelations, as he faced reporters on Wednesday, equipped with a printed map of Daesh defeat. The before/after picture shows what Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group used to control “on election day” back in 2016 and how it lost its territory since then, World News reported.
“When I took it over, it was a mess,” Trump said, pointing at the map, adding, today “there is no red. In fact, there’s actually a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight”.
The US president was referring to the Baghouz area in Eastern Syria where hundreds of IS terrorists and their families are holed up in a small camp under a siege laid by Washington-backed Kurdish-led militants. Notably, Trump did not give any credit to the Syrian Army, Russia and other allies for reducing the self-styled caliphate to its current miserable state.
The American president also confirmed the decision to leave 400 US troops in Syria – 200 in the North and 200 in the Al-Tanf area at the Jordan border. US troops have been occupying parts of Syria for years, citing the need to fight IS.
In December 2018, Trump declared the IS terror group defeated in Syria and announced American troop pullout from the country but gave no timeline. The surprise announcement resulted in the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, US anti-IS coalition envoy Brett McGurk and Pentagon Chief of staff Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney who disapproved of the American president’s decision.
Notably, the US troops have been operating in Syria as part of an international coalition for about five years without the permission of Syrian authorities or the UN Security Council. The United States has, in particular, supported the Kurdish-led militia controlling the territories to the East of the Euphrates and opposing the Syrian government.
A UN report seen by Reuters estimated there are up to 18,000 Daesh militants in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreign fighters. It warned the group was interested in attacking aviation and using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.