Even though ISIS has been all but decimated, there are still pockets of the militants holding their ground.
In March, President Donald Trump said that “very soon” he would bring U.S. troops home from Syria. Today, his defense secretary suggested any such drawdown remains far off.
In a rare Pentagon press conference, James Mattis said a drawdown must wait for more diplomatic progress toward a United Nations-negotiated peace in Geneva that deposes Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Yet Assad continues to consolidate his power against a dwindling rebel movement, aided by Russia and Iran, even as pockets of ISIS fighters stand their ground, Defense One reports.
“We need the Geneva process, the UN-recognized process, to start making traction towards solving this war, It really comes down to finding a way of solving this problem of Assad’s making. Let me just be very precise here,” Mattis said.
When a reporter asked a question on Iran being the target, SOD Mattis responded with:
“Our problem is not with Iran, it’s with the Iranian regime leadership, not the Iranian people.”
It was then brought up about Russian involvement in Syria and Russia working directly with Assad, again SOD Mattis hammered back the blunt truth:
“What are they doing in Syria in the first place, other than propping up someone who has committed mayhem and murder on his own people? They have no business there, and our goal is to move the Syrian civil war into the Geneva process so the Syrian people can establish a new government that is not led by Assad, and give them a chance for a future that Assad has denied them with overt Russian and Iranian support. So, we are asking for Russia to do what is the right thing in this case. I will assure you the Department of State has been in active communications — recent, active communications — with Russia to enlist them in preventing this.”
All of this is coming out as Assad is massing troops for an offensive attack on the de-escalation zone, which is forbidden by the U.N.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army sent more troops and equipment to the Northwestern parts of the country on Wednesday to reinvigorate its combat capabilities for an imminent major operation in Idlib province.
The army forwarded tens of military vehicles, a large number of fresh soldiers and a large volume of equipment to Southern Idlib as it is preparing for a large-scale operation in Northwestern Syria.
In the meantime, the army’s artillery and missile units pounded the positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and its allies near the towns of Hasraya and al-Latamina, destroying a base in al-Latamina and killing the entire militants inside.
The Russian media reported already that the country’s navy has dispatched its largest taskforce naval fleet to Syrian coasts in the Mediterranean Sea.
On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said the US might have plans to use a fake chemical attack in Syria to hit government forces with airstrikes, adding that Washington is already building up strike capability in the Middle East.
In a statement published on Monday, the Russian ministry said it noted the deployment to the Mediterranean last weekend of the missile destroyer USS Ross carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles on board. It came after a similar move of the USS The Sullivans to the Persian Gulf and the rebasing of a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber to an air base in Qatar.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.