White House says Syria mission 'rapidly' ending - but not yet


The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being nearly completely destroyed.

Respond to the Tuesday's comments by Trump that the USA was on the path for withdrawal, Rep. Ro Khanna said they should be welcomed as they indicate the "neocon view of leaving troops there to deal with Iran and Hezbollah is not winning out".

Trump in recent weeks has asked Saudi Arabia to contribute $4 billion for reconstruction in Syria, according to a US official, as part of the president's effort to get other countries to pay for stabilizing the country so the USA isn't on the hook.

President Trump is telling the US military to prepare for the withdrawal of troops from Syria, but has chosen not to pull American forces until ISIS is absolutely defeated.

Trump said during the session on Tuesday that he wants to defeat ISIS but that the costs of stabilizing Syria must be borne by regional players.

At virtually the same time on Tuesday, however, top military and State Department officials said the U.S.would continue to operate in Syria until the threat of ISIS is dealt with.

"So, it's time. It's time".

The statement offered no timetable for withdrawal.

US military commanders have cautioned against a rush to the exits in Syria, mindful of what happened after American forces left Iraq in 2011. That amount presumably includes expenses incurred on the war in Afghanistan.

Many military officials were taken aback by Trump's stated intent, first mentioned last week, to withdraw from Syria.

Speaking at a joint news conference, Erdogan said Turkish troops, which last month took control of the northwestern Kurdish enclave of Afrin, would move eastward into Manbij and other areas controlled by the USA -backed militia, the Peoples' Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey considers to be terrorists.

"The hard part, I think, is in front of us", Gen. Joseph Votel, the U.S. Central Command chief, told an audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace Tuesday, "and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes, addressing the long-term issues of reconstruction and other things that will have to be done". "Of course, there is a military role in this, certainly in the stabilization phase".

Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the global coalition against IS, on Tuesday said the United States fight against the militants was not over.

Asked about a possible USA pullout, Rouhani suggested Wednesday that the US threat to withdraw from Syria was an excuse for soliciting money from countries that want US forces to remain there.

"We are in Syria to fight ISIS", said Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat IS, speaking Tuesday at the U.S. Institute for Peace at almost the same time as the president.

Both Tehran and Moscow have deployed military forces to Syria to secure their own interests and to back up Assad in his now seven-year-old war against anti-government rebels.

Two U.S. -led Coalition personnel were killed on Thursday, and five others wounded, in Mangij, Syria.

Many have warned that a premature US withdrawal from Syria would cede the country to Iran and Russian Federation, which have supported Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The effort against the remaining militants has been slowed on the ground, Votel acknowledged, by the departure of members of the principal USA proxy, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.

And, with only a few thousand ISIS fighters thought to remain, the rationale for keeping United States troops alongside Kurdish and Arab militia allies in the east of Syria may soon expire.

"I say here once again that we will not stop until we have made safe all areas controlled by the (YPG), starting with Manbij", Erdogan said.