According to Defence Secretary Mark Esper, the current plan presupposes that US troops leaving Syria will head for western Iraq and the military will persist in its anti-Daesh* operations to make sure there is no resurgence of terrorism in the area.

Speaking to reporters while on a flight to the Middle East, the defence chief mentioned he had talked to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to redirect over 700 of the 1,000 US troops, from Syria to Iraq, adding that the data was fluid and the details would be worked out in due time.

Per Esper, the troops leaving for Iraq will largely have two missions:

“One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS* mission as we sort through the next steps”, he said.

“Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now”, Esper said referring to Iraq, where the US currently maintains around 5,000 troops, several years after Washington formally pulled its forces from there in 2011, bringing an end to a war that many considered to be a US occupation.

The withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq was a contentious issue in the United States and beyond for most of the 2000s, with public opinion shifting towards favouring a pullout.

In 2008, George W. Bush signed the US–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which stipulated a deadline of 31 December 2011, before which “all the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory”.

Although it did so in 2011, three years later, in 2014, due to the advance of Daesh from Syria to Iraq’s western provinces, the US was prompted to intervene again, alongside other militaries, to combat Daesh. In January 2019, Secretary of State Pompeo put the number of US troops in Iraq at no more than 5,000.

ALSO READ  Large number of Iraqi military reinforcements sent to Syrian border

US President Trump has a number of times reiterated his rationale for pulling American forces out of Syria, stating as late as last Wednesday that “it’s time to bring our soldiers back home”.

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria closely followed POTUS’s telephone conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, in which he vowed not to hamper Turkish activity along Syria’s northeastern border, where the country recently launched an operation called “Peace Spring” targeting the remaining Daesh in the area and local Kurds.

The latter sees the US pullout as abandonment of them, as the US had allied with the Kurdish-dominated SDF since the start of the Syrian conflict.

As Esper left Washington on Saturday, US troops were continuing to leave northern Syria, over a week after the Turks launched an offensive, which Erdogan promised to continue irrespective of “what one says” in the wake of a considerable backlash from the international community.

There continue to arrive reports of sporadic clashes between Turkish fighters and their Kurdish adversaries, whom Ankara views as having ties to the PKK, an organisation banned in Turkey as a terrorist outfit, despite a five-day truce deal cut on Friday between the US and Turkish leadership.

 

Source: Sputnik

Advertisements
Share this article:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1
    Share

Notice: All comments represent the view of the commenter and not necessarily the views of AMN.

All comments that are not spam or wholly inappropriate are approved, we do not sort out opinions or points of view that are different from ours.

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat this discussion with the same respect you would a public park. We, too, are a shared community resource — a place to share skills, knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

These are not hard and fast rules, merely guidelines to aid the human judgment of our community and keep this a clean and well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they matter to you, too. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.