Mattis Signs Off on Troop Withdrawal in Syria – Troops Coming Home, More Changes On the Horizon

 In Politics

With just a few days left as Secretary of Defense, James Mattis signed the orders for the Troop Withdrawal from Syria. He didn’t want to. He doesn’t believe it’s a good idea, but in the end, he did his duty. Trump has stated that the withdrawal will be “slow and coordinated,” but the Pentagon gave no specifics on the timetable due to “operational security.”

Fox reported,

While the U.S. military is planning to leave Syria, it has no plans to withdraw the more than 5,000 American troops in neighboring Iraq. Some of those special operations forces could be used for raids against “high value targets” in Syria from bases in Iraq if necessary, officials said.

The last ISIS stronghold in eastern Syria is the city of Hajin located not far from the Iraqi border. U.S. and allied artillery continue to fire on ISIS positions from Iraq. U.S.-led coalition air strikes also continue against the terrorist army in Syria.

But questions remain about what will happen once all American forces are out of Syria. “Challenges are ahead,” one U.S. official said. Currently, no Kurdish or Arab fighters in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have the ability to call in American airstrikes.

It’s not clear whether the SDF will continue to receive arms and funding from the United States to sustain the fight against ISIS.

In the wake of the Mattis  leaving, there have been a couple of developments:

 

There truly are challenges ahead. Erdogan is not a friend of the United States – he is a jihadist who hates the Kurds. They have also been instrumental in crushing ISIS. They are tough and have survived as a people for a long time, but if Turkey plans to eradicate them, there will be issues that will cause the US to be in the middle again.

Trump appears to have made a deal with Saudi Arabia to rebuild Syria. The issues there are also immense- Assad is a different branch of Islam than Saudi Arabia. So we’ll have to see how that goes. As we’ve said before…this may be an interesting year.

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patrick shanahanIraq