Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

US commander: IS hold in Syria, Iraq on verge of collapse

US commander: IS hold in Syria, Iraq on verge of collapse

The Republican-led U.S. Senate on Monday backed largely symbolic legislation that broke with Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Iraq's president hit back at Donald Trump Monday for saying US troops should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran, saying the USA leader did not ask for Iraq's permission to do so.

"I want to be able to watch Iran", the President said in response to a question about whether the troops will be kept in Iraq in view of a potential military strike against Iran.

The US military commander overseeing American troops in the Middle East has told a Senate hearing that he was not consulted ahead of Donald Trump's surprise decision in December to pull US troops out of Syria.

Trump was answering questions on his commitment to reduce USA military presence in the Middle East.

Republican opposition to Mr Trump has been rare during his first two years in office but is growing, especially over foreign policy, which was due to form about half of his annual address to Congress last night....

USA military commanders rely heavily on Syrian forces to gather intelligence from information and material gathered from the battlefield, but also a wide-range of informers with firsthand knowledge about ISIS operations.

"Memories of occupation are still fresh, and we're rubbing salt on that", Douglas Ollivant, a former National Security Council director for Iraq, told Al-Monitor.

"Talking about US military bases in Iraq for the purposes of confrontation complicates the relationship with neighboring countries", he said in a statement, adding that it also undermines Iraq's independence.

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"We have to protect other things that we have", Trump told CBS on Sunday, but said the troops will be "coming back in a matter of time". "The US is a major power ... but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here". "We're going to have a strong border".

"We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes".

Abu Jaffar al-Shabaki, the head of PMF's 30th Brigade, in a press conference Saturday said the US troops were surveying Mosul city and filming neighborhoods with video recorders.

"If the USA is perceived as being in Iraq not exclusively to assist the Iraqi forces in [the] fight against ISIS, it will strengthen the hand of those who oppose the U.S. presence", said David Witty, a retired United States special forces colonel.

The amendment called on the Trump administration to certify conditions had been met for the groups' "enduring defeat" before any significant withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan.

Trump also said he plans to transfer some of the American troops stationed in Syria to Iraq.

Trump is in an ongoing feud with the U.S. intelligence community, which last week warned IS can quickly rebuild into a cohesive force in any vacuum left in the war-torn country. Abdullah said that, despite this, the partial withdrawal of USA -led foreign forces would not spell the end of the world for Afghanistan.

Trump's December decision to leave Syria, shocked U.S. allies and led to the resignations of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the top envoy to the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) coalition.

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