CentCom Commander: 'I Was Not Aware' of Syria Withdrawal Announcement
06 February, 2019, 04:14 | Author: Rachel Logan
Votel said that a "key task" for the usa during the withdrawal will be "the protection of those who have fought valiantly with us and ensuring that they remain safe as our diplomats and United Nations and others pursue a political solution here in Syria".
Trump's remarks that come weeks after the USA president sparked outrage in Iraq by visiting U.S. troops at Ain al-Asad base without meeting a single Iraqi official, are fuelling renewed calls for the expulsion of United States forces.
USA officials told Reuters that the military has already started the withdrawal process, adding hundreds of troops to Syriato facilitate a safe pullout.
Trump has said he has no plans to withdraw the 5,200 troops in Iraq, which he says could carry out USA airstrikes inside Syria after American troops withdraw from that country.
"And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem", the president said. "We might as well keep it", he said, referring to Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq that he visited in December.
Trump is expected to discuss foreign policy in the address to a joint session of Congress, including declaring the Islamic State militant group all but defeated. The militias fought alongside USA -backed Iraqi troops against IS in recent years, gaining outsized influence and power along the way.
The proposed bill also enoys the support of Iranian-backed blocs in the parliament, The New Arabreported in December but pressure from the prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has so far blocked it, as he tries to balance Baghdad's relations with its two rival allies, the United States and Iran.
In December, Trump shocked the defense establishment by announcing the immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria, claiming the mission was complete after "defeating" the Islamic State.
Trump cited the high cost in blood and money after years of fighting in Afghanistan, in arguing for a U.S. withdrawal from the place where the 9/11 attacks were hatched.
"We are adjusting our military posture in Syria, planning and executing a deliberate, safe and professional withdrawal of personnel and equipment while preserving sufficient power in the region", Votel said. Trump, who has called Iran a top US security threat, backed out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May while reinstituting economic sanctions that had been lifted as part of the deal.
"It is a vicious country that kills many people", Mr Trump said.
Trump, who imposed sanctions on Iran past year after pulling the United States out of the 2015 nuclear agreement, mentioned the future plans for US troops in Iraq in an interview that aired before the Super Bowl. "We can come back very quickly". His visit sparked outrage in Iraq when he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials.
But Trump's planned meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was canceled over a dispute about the location of the meeting. He alleged PMF fighters stopped the survey operation after US troops reached the Presidential Palace area near the Mosul Hotel where a PMF headquarter is based.
The report debunked the widely circulated estimate - from June 2018 - that IS had up to 17,000 fighters in Iraq and up to 14,000 in Syria, calling it questionable even at the time.
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