Trump's Comments on Watching Iran from Iraq 'Humiliating' for Baghdad
Trump's Comments on Watching Iran from Iraq 'Humiliating' for Baghdad
Iraqi President Says Trump Did Not Ask Permission To 'Watch Iran'
06 February, 2019, 18:31
Following the president's announcement in December 2018 of plans to withdraw USA troops, the United States met with representatives of the Taliban for peace talks.
The top commander of USA forces in the Middle East, Gen. Joseph Votel, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that of the 88,000 square kilometres of territory ISIS once held, it now controls less than 52 square kilometres.
He said ISIS still controls about 20 square miles of territory in Syria where the terror group still commands approximately 1,000 to 1,500 fighters.
The U.S. Senate passed a Mideast policy bill on Tuesday including a measure that would allow states to penalize businesses that take part in boycotts of Israel and an amendment that breaks with President Donald Trump by opposing any plans for an abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria.
The US has been leading a coalition to crush the Islamic State group which grabbed swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, and multiple offensives have since ousted the militants from all but a sliver of territory in eastern Syria.
In a speech that stressed bipartisanship and compromise for the good of the Republic, President Donald Trump highlighted a need to pull out of the longtime war in Afghanistan, seek for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and return home from Syria.
"I was not consulted", said Gen Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. military's Central Command, who warned that Islamic State will continue to pose a threat following a USA withdrawal.
The PMF says the presence of US troops in Iraq is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty and has constantly threatened action against them if they refuse to withdraw. USA policy has been to keep troops in place until the extremists are eradicated.
With a litany of criminal investigations looming over his administration and various associates, Trump sought to link the country's strong economic growth of late with what he said was the danger of "ridiculous partisan investigations".
In a CBS interview broadcast Sunday, Trump said USA troops withdrawing from neighboring Syria would soon be moved to the huge al-Asad Airbase in Iraq's Anbar province with a new mission of protecting Israel and countering Iran.
USA officials say that overall, there are about 2,000 IS militants in Syria. But the troops have yet to start leaving Syria, and officials subsequently have said the military exodus would unfold over several months.
The Defense Department watchdog report warned that even with the IS forces on the run, the group "is still able to coordinate offensives and counter-offensives, as well as operate as a decentralized insurgency".
Starting this week, the new Congress is stepping up its oversight of US military operations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, and the planned drawdowns of troops from several of those places.
According to the report, U.S. Central Command believes that IS fighters will continue to conduct "opportunistic attacks" on U.S. troops as they withdraw.
'Absent sustained (counterterrorism) pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory, ' the report from the Pentagon's inspector general said.
Last week, many top GOP senators voiced concern after Trump called the heads of his own intelligence agencies "naive" for contradicting him about the threats North Korea and the Islamic State pose to the U.S.
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But U.S. troops have no right to do that, said Iraqi President Barham Salih, adding that Trump's comments were "surprising". A source familiar with Trump's plans also confirmed to Politico that he planned to announce the summit during the address.
Nur said the talks, which stretched into late evening on Tuesday, will continue on Wednesday and possibly even on Thursday. Along with Karzai, the former president, numerous 38 delegates from Kabul have held prominent government positions.
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