US to keep about 500 troops in Syria (Army)

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The number of US troops in northern Syria will likely stabilize at around 500, the Army chief said on Sunday, weeks after US President Donald Trump announced a full US withdrawal from the country.

“There will certainly be less than 1,000,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC, adding that the figure would likely be between 500 and 600.

Last month, Trump’s surprise announcement of a full withdrawal from Syria sparked condemnatory reactions in the United States and abroad.This would allow IS to return to the scene and put Kurdish fighters allied with the United States in Syria at risk of a Turkish invasion, analysts said.

The president later partially reversed his decision, announcing that few troops would remain in the area to protect oil wells.

“It is very important that American soldiers remain in Syria as long as ISIS is still there,” Millie, who previously commanded US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, told ABC.

“There are still Islamic State fighters in Iraq and the Levant in the region,” he said. “Unless the pressure continues, unless we remain vigilant about this group, there is a serious possibility that IS will re-emerge.”

Asked about the military operation that led to the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 26, General Milli said this had caused “a major disruption to the organization”.

He explained that the United States has a great deal of information about his successor Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi.

“Whenever the opportunity arises, we will pursue him,” he said.

Trump has repeatedly announced that he intends to reduce the armed conflicts waged by US forces where possible, but General Milli predicted the US troops deployed 18 years ago in Afghanistan “for many years.”

Milli was asked if he had any knowledge of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Findman, a Ukrainian affairs expert at the White House who testified about his concerns over a telephone conversation between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelinsky that sparked a parliamentary inquiry to isolate the US president.

Milly responded by refusing to make any comment “about a witness in an ongoing investigation.”

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