AL-TANF, Syria – The United States and allied forces in Syria need to finish training between 35,000 and 40,000 Syrians to establish stability in eastern Syria after the defeat and expulsion of the Daesh [ISIS] terrorist group from these areas, said the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff United States, Joseph Dunford.
“We estimate about 35,000 to 40,000 local forces have to be trained and equipped in order to provide stability,” Dunford said at a Washington Post event on Thursday. “We are probably somewhere along the line of 20 percent through the training of those forces.”
According to Dunford, the stabilization process in eastern Syria could continue for an indefinite period.
“With regard to stabilization we still have a long way to go. We can say our presence in Syria right now is sustainable and can be adjusted based on conditions,” he said.
Dunford did not detail the number of Special Operations Commanders currently operating in eastern Syria, but said there were no plans to withdraw them.
“No. That’s right… They’re not leaving any time soon,” he said.
President Donald Trump also announced in March this year that the US would leave Syria “very soon,” but Dunford’s statements suggest the president will not be able to do as he promised.
Since 2014, Washington has dispatched about 2,000 special operations forces to Syria, arguing the measure to combat the terrorist group Daesh (banned in Russia and elsewhere). Damascus described the US presence in the country as illegal occupation.
US troops in Syria officially only support and train the Syrian Democratic Forces, opposition militias composed mostly of Kurdish and Arab fighters.
Meanwhile, at least five civilians were killed in US-led coalition airstrikes on the city of Hajin in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province on Wednesday, the Syrian state-run SANA news agency reported.
“Five people were killed and several others were wounded as a result of airstrikes by the planes of the international coalition on the city of Hajin in the east of Deir ez-Zor,” SANA said.