A new report by the Pentagon inspector general says terror group ISIS is re-surging in Syria, findings that seem to contradict President Donald Trump’s claims from several months ago that the group’s caliphate had been completely defeated.
“Despite losing its territorial ‘caliphate,’ the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was re-surging in Syria,” warned the report, which was published on Tuesday.
The report’s findings come in sharp contrast to President Trump’s frequent boasts that his administration has eliminated “100% of the caliphate” in Syria. Only last month, he told a cabinet meeting that as a result, the U.S. would rapidly withdraw troops from the country.
However, the Pentagon’s report indicates that the partial pullout of some American forces has already affected the fight against the remnants of ISIS, impacting the ability of the U.S. to monitor areas that are described as potential recruiting zones and advise local allies on the ground, CNN reports.
“The reduction of US forces has decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their forces need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, wrote in a message accompanying the report.
The report from the lead inspector general for Operation Inherent Resolve – the U.S.-led operation fighting the terror group – covers the period April 1 to June 30, 2019. It warns that due to the withdrawal and the decreased number of personnel, the U.S. and its local allies lost the ability to closely monitor the al-Hol internally displaced persons camp, which, in turn, has enabled “ISIS ideology to spread ‘uncontested’ in the camp.”
The Pentagon has not provided a concrete number regarding troops remaining in Syria, although it has seen a substantial reduction.
The President has stressed that a small residual U.S. force will remain in the country for an indefinite period of time to help ensure ISIS remains defeated.
“We’ll be out of there pretty soon. And let them handle their own problems. Syria can handle their own problems — along with Iran, along with Russia, along with Iraq, along with Turkey. We’re 7,000 miles away,” President Trump said last month.