Top US military official says 500 troops to remain in Syria

A US military vehicle drives along a road in the Syrian northeastern city of Qamishli. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 November 2019

Top US military official says 500 troops to remain in Syria

  • Trump had previously announced a complete withdrawal
  • Milley says it was important for US troops to remain in Syria so long as Daesh has a presence

WASHINGTON: US troop levels in northern Syria will probably stabilize around 500, a top American military leader said Sunday, weeks after President Donald Trump had announced a complete withdrawal.
“There will be less than 1,000, for sure,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Probably in the 500ish frame, maybe six.”
Trump’s abrupt announcement last month that he had ordered a full troop withdrawal drew angry rebukes at home and abroad, with critics saying it could allow a resurgence of Daesh, while leaving US-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.
The US president later relented in part, saying he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oil fields.
Milley, who has commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, told ABC that it was important for US troops to remain in Syria so long as Daesh has a presence there.
“There are still Daesh fighters in the region,” he said, using an alternate term for Daesh. “Unless pressure is maintained, unless attention is maintained on that group, there’s a very real possibility there could be a re-emergence of Daesh.”
Asked about the killing Oct. 26 of Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi by a US special forces unit, Milley said it would have a “significant disruptive effect on the organization.” He said the US had “a considerable amount of information on his successor,” Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Quraishi.
“Where opportunities arise,” Milley said, “we’ll go after him.”
Trump has said he wants to wind down US military entanglements abroad where possible, but Milley predicted that American troops, already in Afghanistan for 18 years, would remain there “for several more years.”
He was also asked whether he knew Alexander Vindman, the army lieutenant colonel and White House Ukraine expert who has testified about his concerns over a controversial phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Milley declined to comment “on a witness to an active investigation” — the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into Trump.


Iranian policeman killed in clashes

Updated 17 November 2019

Iranian policeman killed in clashes

  • Major Iraj Javaheri died of his wounds a day after a confrontation with armed attackers in the western city of Kermanshah
  • One civilian was killed during demonstrations in the central city of Sirjan

TEHRAN: An Iranian policeman died Sunday after being shot in a clash with “rioters and thugs” during protests against petrol price hikes, state news agency IRNA reported.

Major Iraj Javaheri died of his wounds a day after a confrontation with armed attackers in the western city of Kermanshah on Saturday, provincial police chief Ali Akbar Javidan said, cited by IRNA.

The officer was “martyred in a confrontation with a number of rioters and thugs,” Javidan said.

He suffered a gunshot wound while trying to defend his police station from the assailants who attempted to seize it, Javidan said.

It was the second confirmed death since protests erupted across Iran on Friday after the announcement of a decision to impose petrol price hikes and rationing.

“The people of Kermanshah, alongside people of other cities, peacefully protested the recent developments... and their concerns will certainly be heard,” said Javidan.

“The majority of citizens do not approve of the chaos caused by some known individuals and clearly ask for confronting them,” the police chief added.

One civilian was killed during demonstrations in the central city of Sirjan, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Saturday, citing acting governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi.