A new report from the Pentagon claims that as the United States withdraws forces from Syria, ISIS is now making a comeback in the war-torn country—raising questions about how the US should proceed with its foreign policy in the Middle East.
The Pentagon Inspector General released a quarterly report, which claims ISIS has started re-surging in Syria as the US has been withdrawing troops over the last few months.
The report states that between April 1 and June 30 of this year, “ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria, and it intensified its insurgency in Iraq.”
The Inspector General claims that while ISIS does not have nearly the amount of land that it did back in 2015, it is still carrying out assassinations, suicide attacks and abductions, in both Iraq and Syria
At the end of 2018, Trump declared that ISIS was defeated, but the Pentagon report claims that there are between 14,000 and 18,000 ISIS forces that are still threatening Iraq and Syria.
Trump has repeatedly used the phrase “great nations do not fight endless wars,” and he has expressed that he wants to withdraw troops from countries like Syria and Afghanistan, where the US has been involved in wars for years with no end in sight.
But even when Trump was announcing that the US would be withdrawing troops from Syria earlier this year, he was contradicted by National Security Adviser John Bolton, who argued that a withdrawal would not be happening as soon as Trump claimed it would.
The inspector general also noted that when the US reduced forces in Syria, it decreased the support available for partner forces in the country at a time when they needed “more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence.”
The method of arming and training rebel groups was used by the Obama Administration in its effort to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But studies have shown that the materials supplied to Syrian rebels from foreign parties, such as the US and Saudi Arabia, have indirectly allowed ISIS to obtain substantial quantities of anti-armor ammunition and other weapons.
Now it remains to be seen how the Trump Administration will respond to the latest report that ISIS has yet to be defeated, and whether Trump’s most hawkish officials will influence his decisions regarding the war-torn country.