Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 2-U.S. says no timeline for Syria withdrawal as fighting continues


The United States has no timeline for the withdrawal of American troops from Syria but does not plan to stay indefinitely, a senior State Department official said on Friday, sending a strong signal that U.S. forces could stay until the fight against Islamic State militants is over.

U.S.-backed forces are still retaking territory from Islamic State in Syria, Pentagon officials said on Friday, two weeks after Washington announced it would withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. President Donald Trump said at the time that the troops had succeeded in their mission and were no longer needed there.

The administration's abrupt announcement last month took officials in Washington and allies by surprise, contributed to Jim Mattis' decision to resign as U.S. defense secretary, and prompted concern that Islamic State could stage a comeback.

The State Department official, briefing reporters before a visit to the Middle East next week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, apparently sought to allay this concern.

"We have no timeline for our military forces to withdraw from Syria," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

"It will be done in such a way that we and our allies and partners maintain pressure on ISIS throughout and we do not open up any vacuums for terrorists."

The United States did not intend to have an indefinite military presence in Syria, the official added.

U.S. officials have told Reuters that it could take several more months to carry out a withdrawal, potentially giving time for U.S.-backed forces to deal parting blows to the militant group that once held broad swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Trump said on Wednesday the United States would get out of Syria slowly "over a period of time" and would protect the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down troops.

'FINAL BLOWS'

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which include Kurdish fighters, captured the Syrian town of Kashmah on Jan. 2 after retaking the town of Hajin on Dec. 25, Pentagon spokesman Navy Commander Sean Robertson told Reuters.

The day the SDF took Kashmah was the same day that Trump stated during a cabinet meeting his strong desire to gradually withdraw from Syria, calling it a place of "sand and death."

Trump also said it was up to other countries to fight Islamic State, including Russia and Iran, and said that Islamic State was down to its last remaining bits of territory in Syria.

"We're hitting the hell out of them, the ISIS people," Trump said, using an acronym to refer to Islamic State, adding "we're down to final blows."

In a separate statement on Friday, the U.S.-led coalition said it carried out 469 strikes in Syria between Dec. 16 and Dec. 29, which destroyed nearly 300 fighting positions, more than 150 staging areas, and a number of supply routes, oil lubricant storage facilities and equipment.

Aaron Stein, the Middle East program director at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said Islamic State retained control of just a "sprinkle of villages" near the Euphrates river.

"(ISIS) will simply revert to a diffused rural insurgency where it could use just the tyranny of space, the desert is very big, to sort of hideout and be able to launch raiding attacks," Stein said.

The Pentagon spokesman said coalition forces, which Washington coordinates, were continuing to assist the SDF with close air support and artillery strikes in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

"We will continue to work with the coalition and regional partners toward an enduring defeat of ISIS," Robertson said.

He called the capture of Hajin significant.

"This was a milestone, since it was among the largest of the last remaining ISIS strongholds in the Middle Euphrates River Valley," he said.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the U.S. military was assisting with the operations.

Islamic State declared its "caliphate" in 2014 after seizing large swathes of Syria and Iraq. The hardline Islamist group established its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, using it as a base to plot attacks in Europe.

Much of the U.S. campaign in Syria has been waged by warplanes flying out of Qatar and other locations in the Middle East. (Writing by Idrees Ali Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed. Editing by Mary Milliken and Frances Kerry)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

Conspiracy theories on COVID 19: Legislators, Scientists, and Journalists all joined the Caravan

Conspiracy theories are not new for virus epidemics. There have been conspiracy theories on HIV-AIDS, Polio Vaccines, Ebola Virus, and several other diseases as well. However, what makes the 2019 Novel Coronavirus different from others is ...

Top 10 Fake News, Myths and Realities on 2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID 19

With nearly 1500 deaths by January 14 and around 65,000 infections in China, the Novel Coronavirus 2019 has become one of the worst health epidemics of the 21st Century. However, 8,573 people have been cured but the rumor mongers are a...

Handling fake news Infodemic in time of Coronavirus epidemic

Social media has provided a platform where everybody can disseminate his her views without any supervision. Its excellent if the message is genuine but misinformation is equally disastrous. Health is such a topic where every Tom and Harry c...

Sentiment Analysis on Budget 2020: Long shot for solution to economic worries?

Industries and individuals alike had high expectations from the government to take tangible steps but the budget 2020 seems to have failed expectations....

Videos

Latest News

ED raids multiple premises in Noida Bike Bot ponzi scam case

The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday conducted searches at around a dozen locations in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in connection with its money laundering probe against a Noida-based firm alleged to be involved in a ponzi scam, officials sai...

Why is Cong unhappy when country's stature is being raised globally, asks BJP

Hitting out at the Congress over its scepticism about US President Donald Trumps visit to India, the BJP on Saturday asked the opposition party why it is unhappy when the countrys stature is being raised globally. Addressing a press confere...

Trade deadline looms as Rangers host Sharks

The phone calls and text messages probably are flooding Jeff Gortons cell phone regarding forward Chris Kreider ahead of Mondays trade deadline, but the recent performance of the New York Rangers might give the general manager pause on cons...

Rule of law is foundation of societal values in India: PM Modi at International Judicial Conference

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the rule of law is the foundation of societal values in India and that every Indian has belief in the judiciary. Speaking at the International Judicial Conference here, PM Modi said, In Ind...

Give Feedback