CentCom Commander: 'I Was Not Aware' of Syria Withdrawal Announcement

Minnie Murray
February 6, 2019

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw American troops from Syria shocked American military officials and US allies alike.

Votel confirmed he was among those left in the dark, telling the Senate panel: "I was not aware of the specific announcement".

Some Democrats had anxious Monday's vote could be seen as lending new legal backing to the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against al Qaeda - legislation that has since been stretched to cover US military intervention in more than a dozen countries, including Syria.

Trump announced in December that the 2,000 US troops in Syria would be withdrawn on the grounds that Islamic State militants no longer pose a threat.

"I want to be able to watch Iran", Trump continued.

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

US President Donald Trump's recent remarks about US soldiers staying in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran was a "foolish statement", Mohammad Marandi, an expert on American studies and postcolonial literature who teaches at the University of Tehran, told Sputnik.

The Syrian Democratic Front is a Kurdish-led coalition of fighting forces that the USA military is helping to battle ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria.

The Republican-led Senate on Monday backed a resolution that broke with Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The US has been leading a coalition to crush the Islamic State group which grabbed swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, and multiple offensives have since ousted the jihadists from all but a sliver of territory in eastern Syria.

According to The Daily Beast, anti-American Iraqi lawmakers, led by political leader Muqtada Sadr, were already planning to vote on a parliamentary measure that would call for the expulsion of US forces. "We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home".

According to the text, the "precipitous withdrawal of United States forces" from either country "could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security".

Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked US allies led to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the top envoy to the anti-IS coalition, Brett McGurk.

After a bitterly disputed vote, the USA brokered a power-sharing agreement between Ghani and Abdullah in 2014.

Trump initially said the withdrawal would be rapid but the pace has slowed as military officials work out the logistics of the pull-out.

"We are surprised by the statements made by the USA president on the presence of USA troops in Iraq", Salih said at a forum in Baghdad.

Trump said that the USA troops in Syria were starting to come home, as they push out the "final remainder of the [IS] caliphate".

"Rather than pulling up, and this is what a lot of people don't understand, we're going to keep watching".

Trump is expected to discuss foreign policy in the address to a joint session of Congress, including declaring the Islamic State militant group all but defeated.

US officials tell Reuters that the military has already started the withdrawal process, adding hundreds of troops to Syria to facilitate a safe pullout.

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