Pentagon: ISIS strengthens clandestine network in Syria and Iraq

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The terrorist group Daesh [ISIS] has in recent months strengthened its clandestine network in Syria and Iraq, according to a US Department of Defense report.

According to the report, focused on the Inherent Resolution operation and signed by the Pentagon Deputy Inspector General Glenn Fine, the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, and the Inspector General of the International Development Agency (USAID), Ann Calvaresi Barr, since half of the 2,000 members of special operations and other relief and training forces returned to the US in the spring, Daesh is trying to get back to business five months after US President Donald Trump says that the forces of the caliphate had been totally defeated.

“Despite losing its territorial ‘caliphate,’ the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria this quarter,” according to the US report, attributing this scenario to the lack of capacity of Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces to maintain long-term operations against extremist militants.

Senior US commanders against ‘partial withdrawal’

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The decision made by the US administration for the “partial withdrawal” was made despite commanders saying that the local US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) “needed more training and equipping for counterinsurgency operations”.

Last year, US President Donald Trump declared victory against the IS group and ordered the withdrawal of all American troops from Syria – a decision that prompted then defense secretary Jim Mattis to quit.

“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,” Trump said last month.

However, a small number of US troops have remained in northeastern Syria, an area not controlled by the Syrian Army, and Washington is pushing for increased military support from other members of the international coalition against the ISIS group.

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