Small Wars Journal

Mattis Pledges Re-Energized ISIS Fight in Syria, Says U.S. Would Regret Leaving

Mattis Pledges Re-Energized ISIS Fight in Syria, Says U.S. Would Regret Leaving by Corey Dickstein - Stars & Stripes

WASHINGTON – American troops will be key in a soon-to-be re-energized campaign against remaining Islamic State fighters in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators Thursday on Capitol Hill, pledging the United States was not preparing to pull its forces from the war-torn country.

“This is an ongoing fight right now,” Mattis told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We’re continuing the fight, and we’re going to expand it with more regional support.”

Shaheen and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Mattis to explain recent comments by President Donald Trump indicating the commander in chief was considering the removal of about 2,000 American troops in Syria serving as advisers to Kurdish-Arab forces battling ISIS…

Mattis told the senators that any removal of American forces would be based on conditions on the battlefield and not a timeline demanded by the president.

Graham, long a proponent for greater American intervention in Syria, asked Mattis whether he supported pulling all American troops out of Syria once ISIS is completely destroyed. The senator compared such a departure to the United States withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which officials have said contributed to the rise of ISIS across Syria and Iraq.

“I’m confident that we would probably regret it,” Mattis said…

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