UN conducts 1st humanitarian mission to Raqqa since ISIS defeat

Saul Bowman
April 5, 2018

The fight against ISIS is coming a "rapid end", according to the trump administration, but no timetable for withdrawal was offered.

Before that meeting, Trump said he expected to decide "very quickly" whether to remove US forces and that their primary mission was to defeat IS. Iran's continued presence in Syria is especially troubling to neighboring Israel, a USA ally that regards Iran as an existential threat.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, however, has largely been split as Kurdish fighters fled the US -led battle against ISIS to take on Turkish troops and Syrian rebel forces that considered Kurdish groups such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) to be terrorist organizations.

Trump's remarks follow comments last week when he vowed United States forces would soon quit Syria even as some of his top officials stressed the need to stay for the long term to stabilise areas freed from IS.

"We are in Syria to fight ISIS", said Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat IS, speaking Tuesday at the U.S. Institute for Peace at almost the same time as the president. United States forces and their Syrian and Iraqi allies, he said, have been through "some very lengthy fights".

"I want to get out", Trump said Tuesday.

Asked about a possible USA pullout, Rouhani said the idea of Americans leaving Syria is being floated to solicit money from countries that want them to remain there.

Just minutes earlier, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, stressed that the job was not finished.

The president had said during a news conference with Baltic countries Tuesday that he wants to "get out" of Syria and "I want to bring our troops back home".

The President is more inclined towards bringing the troops back home, however, he did posit the idea that the US military presence and combat in the region could be extended, if other countries of that region such as Saudi Arabia pay for the expenses concurred during the mission.

"As far Syria is concerned, our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of the ISIS".

The president bemoaned the trillions the USA had spent in the Middle East on wars and foreign aid, arguing that Americans got little in return and would have been better spending that money at home. In a speech ostensibly devoted to his domestic infrastructure plans, Trump told a rally in OH on Thursday that US forces would "be coming out of Syria, like, very soon".

"We get nothing, nothing out of it", Mr Trump said.

"We are in Syria to fight ISIS (IS)", he said at a public event in Washington.

Repeating a theme that he has expressed in the past, including while we were together in Baghdad two years ago, Votel talked about how in many ways, defeating ISIS is the easy part in Syria, as it was in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Trump said in a press conference he would make a decision soon about bringing US troops home from Syria.

On Tuesday, at a press conference with the leaders of three Baltic nations, Mr Trump repeated his view that the USA must "get out" of Syria "very soon". "There is a military role in this, certainly in the stabilization phase". "We are not trespassing over our border or attacking neighbouring countries", he told a news conference, adding that the plan was being discussed by the Iraqi military leadership.

As Trump was meeting his commanders in Washington, the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran were issuing a joint statement calling for a "lasting ceasefire" in Syria.

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