Defense Dept inspector general says ISIS likely to "resurge" without "sustained pressure"

Charlene Craig
February 6, 2019

In a recent interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation", Trump said the United States has an "incredible base" in Iraq that he intends to keep, "because I want to be able to watch Iran".

After Trump made an unannounced visit to an air base in western Iraq in December, some Iraqi lawmakers pledged to draft a bill calling for the expulsion of American forces altogether, while others called for revising an agreement to significantly draw down the approximately 5,200 American troops in the country.

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".

Votel said on Tuesday that the militant group retained leaders, fighters, facilitators and resources that will continue to fuel a menacing insurgency.

President Trump's plans to pull USA troops out of Syria and Afghanistan have been dealt a blow by Republican senators, who voted overwhelmingly to oppose one of his main foreign policies before his state of the union address. "He's humiliating the Iraqi government because they don't recognize the United States presence as being a presence to monitor a neighboring country, and they humiliate the Iraqi government in the eyes of Iraqis who do not want their country occupied by Americans". It is expected to reconvene in March, after a break.

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The votes marked the second time in two months that the Senate supported a measure contradicting Trump's foreign policy, although legislation to change his policies has yet to become law. Since pulling out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal agreed by predecessor Barack Obama, Trump has publicly shown an uncompromising attitude toward Iran and reimposed sanctions on the country.

One concern of Washington is that Iran is looking to build a crescent of influence spanning Iraq and Syria, reaching the Mediterranean. And it says, "If Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria it is very likely that ISIS will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence and territorial control". He added that he would wait for clarifications from Washington on the numbers and nature of the USA troops' mission in his country.

He told CBS he would be open to keeping a small number of troops there as well as intelligence operations to monitor for "nests" of militant activity.

U.S. troops who stay in Iraq will also keep an eye on Syria, the president added.

His comments sparked a new round of demands in Baghdad for USA forces to leave the country.

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The president also said he would keep a reduced military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan long-term, and that he would be willing to "come back if we have to".

We've been there for 19 years, almost, we are fighting very well.

"We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home", he said at another point.

He also said the U.S. isn't really leaving because they will maintain the base in Iraq - "a fantastic edifice".

President Trump speaks at a hanger rally at al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Many Iraqi officials saw the visit and the Trump's comments as affronts to Iraq's sovereignty.

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"We're at 99 percent right now, we'll be at 100", he said on CBS' "Face the Nation". The base hosts American troops but belongs to the Iraqi army.

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