Department of Defense – DoD
WASHINGTON,— Islamic State has exploited Turkey’s incursion into Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurdish region in northeastern Syria, and the drawdown of U.S.
troops from the region, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Pentagon’s Inspector General, adding that the militant group will likely have the “time and space” to target the West.
President Donald Trump has softened his pullout plans for Syria after a backlash from Congress, including among key Republicans who say he cleared the way for a long-threatened Turkish incursion against the Kurdish-led SDF, which had been America’s top ally in the battle against Islamic State.
Amid concerns that Islamic State could stage a resurgence in the ensuing power vacuum, Trump said a small number of U.S.
troops would remain in Syria to protect oil fields.
The Pentagon has said that once the partial U.S.
withdrawal was finished, the U.S.
military would still have roughly around 600 troops in Syria.
Citing the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a report published by the Inspector General said, “ISIS exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S.
troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad.”
The Turkish incursion in October 2019 into Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) dubbed Operation Peace Spring drew international condemnation.
The report, citing the DIA, also said that the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “would likely have little effect on ISIS’s ability to reconstitute.”
Baghdadi died alongside some of his children by detonating an explosive-laden vest when he fled U.S.
forces during an attack in northwest Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been working for five months as part of a joint operation to eliminate Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, General Mazloum Abdi Kobani said last month.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, considered the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and U.S.
has provided them with arms. The YPG, which is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.
The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.
11,000 Kurdish male and female fighters had been killed in five years of war to eliminate the Islamic State “caliphate” that once covered an area the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq.
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