No end to US presence in the Middle East

Washington will leave about 600 troops in Syria for ‘enduring defeat of ISIS’

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff promised there will not be an end to the American presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - nations facing down the threat of the Islamic State and other dangerous groups.

As Gen. Mark Milley said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, the mission to ensure none of these countries are terrorist havens is “not yet complete.” He also stresssed that mission won’t be complete until the countries’ governments and security forces are able to sustain their own internal security against the resurgence of groups like ISIS.

“That effort is ongoing. It's been ongoing for 18 consecutive years,” Milley told ABC's host Martha Raddatz in his first interview since assuming his new post. “I suspect it will be ongoing into the future for several more years.”

Commenting on Syria, he said that small “footprint” of US troops will remain in the war-ravaged country after President Trump was persuaded against a complete withdrawal.

The statement follows Trump’s abrupt announcement last month that he had ordered a full troop withdrawal, which drew angry rebukes at home and abroad, with critics saying it could allow a resurgence of the Islamic State group while leaving US-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria vulnerable to a Turkish invasion. The US president later relented in part, saying he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oil fields.

“There will be less than 1,000 for sure,” Gen. Mark Milley said, referring to the number when Trump announced the withdrawal.

“Probably in the 500-ish frame. Maybe 600. But it’s in that area," he then continued, adding that “we’re not going to go into specific numbers because we’re still going through the analysis right now.”

“There are still ISIS fighters in the region and unless pressure is maintained ... there's a very real possibility that conditions could be set for a reemergence of ISIS," the general told the media.“The footprint will be small, but the objective will remain the same: the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

Similar articles