WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday reassured allies that the withdrawal of US troops from Syria was not “the end of America’s fight” and called on them to recommit to permanently defeating Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
At the State Department, Pompeo told foreign ministers and other senior officials from 79 countries that have worked alongside the United States in fighting the militant group in Syria and Iraq that Daesh remained a menace.
“The US troops withdrawing from Syria is not the end of America’s fight. The fight is one we will continue to wage alongside you,” Pompeo said in opening remarks. “The drawdown in troops is essentially a tactical change, it is not a change in the mission. It simply represents a new stage in an old fight.”
“Our mission is unwavering, but we need your help to accomplish it, just as we’ve had over the past months and years,” Pompeo said, “To that end, we ask that our coalition partners seriously and rapidly consider requests that will enable our efforts to continue.
“Those requests are likely to come very soon,” he added, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump reiterated Pompeo's message, saying: “The United States military, our coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“It should be formally announced, sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate, but I want to wait for the official word. I don't want to say it too early,” he added.
On Tuesday, a top US general warned that Daesh would pose an enduring threat following the planned US withdrawal from Syria. General Joseph Votel, head of the US military’s Central Command, said the militant group retained leaders, fighters, facilitators and resources that will fuel a menacing insurgency.
“We do have to keep pressure on this network. ... They have the ability of coming back together if we don’t,” Votel, who oversees troops in the Middle East as well as Afghanistan, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.