Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Senate votes to keep troops in Syria, Afghanistan

Senate votes to keep troops in Syria, Afghanistan

The report called into question President Donald Trump's Syria withdrawal plan and raised doubts about the ability of US -backed local forces and Turkey to fill the vacuum that would be left by the pullout of the estimated 2,000 USA troops now in Syria.

The report comes just one day after President Donald Trump said in an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation", that the us would send troops back to Syria if needed, even as the administration continues its plan to withdraw 2,000 USA forces from Syria.

"We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice", he said.

Iraqi President Bahram Salih said that the U.S. had not asked permission to have forces on the ground "watch Iran", noting that "the United States presence in Iraq is a part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific task which is to combat terrorism".

He said the constitution forbids the use of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighboring countries.

In an interview with CBS television, Trump reaffirmed his determination to pull the United States out of "endless wars" in Syria and Afghanistan but said American troops would stay on in Iraq, partly "to be looking a little bit at Iran".

"All I want to do is be able to watch".

"We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq".

Earlier that month, Trump announced that the USA would withdraw troops from Syria, claiming that the US had defeated ISIS in the country.

Trump said he would leave intelligence in Afghanistan "and if I see nests forming, I'll do something about it".

Abadi added that the USA participation in the anti-Islamic State worldwide coalition is mainly meant to serve the purposes of logistic support, intelligence and military training, not to endanger Iraqi sovereignty.

Trump on Saturday said he wanted to keep American soldiers in Iraq to "watch Iran", but official agreements between the U.S. and Iraq limit their remit to fighting terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and providing training and tactical advice to Iraqi forces.

Multiple defense officials tell CNN that the President's remarks on monitoring Iran from Iraq were unclear to Pentagon officials who were unsure if they indicated the United States mission in Iraq is changing.

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

"Well, we spent a fortune on building this incredible base", he said. At the height of its fight against insurgents, it had up to 170,000 USA troops in the country, before a partial withdrawal starting in late 2011.

At the height of its fight against the militants, it had up to 170,000 USA troops in the country, before a partial withdrawal starting in late 2011.

Pro-Iran politicians with strong Shiite militia backing have pledged to push out USA forces through legislation passed by Iraq's parliament, but they have increasingly expressed a willingness for armed confrontation.

US troops are now supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces in their final battle against the last ISIS strongholds in eastern Syria, where it's estimated that about 2,000 ISIS fighters remain.

The U.S. will implore foreign allies to take custody of the fighters Wednesday when 79 members of the global coalition aimed at eradicating ISIS meet at the State Department. He also tells @margbrennan one of the reasons he wants to keep troops in Iraq is "to be able to watch Iran".

"But you want to keep troops there now?"

"Memories of occupation are still fresh, and we're rubbing salt on that", Douglas Ollivant, a former National Security Council director for Iraq, told Al-Monitor. The US-led coalition, known as the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) had "low confidence" in those estimates as of last July, the report said.

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