Washington, Aug 9: The US military warned in a report published this week that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still remains a potent threat, though the exact figures are not known but the international anti-Isis coalition estimates between 14,000 and 18,000 members of Isis are still in Iraq and Syria.
A new report released by the Department of Defense this week revealed that the terror group has in recent months “solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria” by the partial removal of U.S. troops from Syria and policy shifts in Iraq.
The report, released by the Pentagon’s inspector general, details how the drawdown of U.S. troops has forced the Trump administration to rely on third-party monitoring of some areas, including a refugee camp set up by U.S.-backed forces.
President Donald Trump boasted that by withdrawing forces from Iraq and Syria,he has fulfilled his campaign promise of US forces pulling out from conflicts in the Middle East. Trump said he will focus on “America first policy.”
The scaling back of U.S. forcesin December, the report continued, has allowed ISIS forces in the area to recruit new members and grow their forces without U.S. interference.
“According to joint task force officials, the drawdown of U.S. forces in Syria also reduced he ability of the U.S.-backed mission to maintain ‘visibility’ at the al Hol IDP camp, forcing it to rely on third-party accounts of the humanitarian and security situation there,” the report reads.
The Pentagon said that from April to June, Isis carried out “targeted assassinations, ambushes, suicide bombings, and the burning of crops” in Iraq and Syria. April also saw the release of the first video from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in five years, as the Isis leader encouraged his followers to keep fighting.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had issued one of his harshest public criticisms of Trump over Mattis’s departure. “I believe it’s essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties,” he said in a statement. “We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter.”
By Arti Bali