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Senior US General Declares Risk of Syria Mission Worth Taking


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General Mark Milley said that the US military presence in northern Syria to fight the terrorist organization ISIS is still worth the risk after eight years.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Saturday flew into Syrian areas occupied by the PKK and its Syrian wing, the People’s Protection Units, to assess efforts to prevent an ISIS resurgence and review U.S. forces’ safeguards against attacks, including drone launches. by Iranian-backed militias.

“General Milley visited northeastern Syria today to meet with leaders and forces,” a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Dave Butler, told reporters.

“While he was there, he received updates on the counter-ISIS mission, inspected force protection measures, and assessed repatriation efforts at Al-Hol refugee camp,” Butler added, referring to ISIS by an alternate shorthand.

While ISIS is a shadow of the group that ruled more than a third of Syria and Iraq when it declared its so-called “caliphate” in 2014, hundreds of fighters still camp out in the desolate areas where the Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, is. Backed militias, and US-backed YPG terrorists, are struggling to establish their full control.

Thousands more ISIS fighters are in detention centers overseen by the People’s Protection Units, the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey recognizes as a terrorist organization and has been described by Washington as a “major ally”.

Asked by reporters traveling with him if he thought deploying about 900 American troops to Syria was worth the risk, Milley linked the mission to the security of the United States and its allies, saying, “If you think that’s important, then the answer is ‘yes’.”

“I think that’s important. So, I think the enduring defeat of ISIS and continuing to support our friends and allies in the region… I think those are important tasks that can be done.

According to US media, the mission is risky. For example, four American soldiers were wounded during a helicopter strike last month when an ISIS commander set off an explosion. In the same month, the US military shot down an Iranian-made drone attempting to conduct reconnaissance on a patrol base in northeastern Syria.

In January, three drones targeted a US base in the Syrian region of Al-Tanf. The US military said two drones were shot down while the remaining drone hit the compound, wounding two YPG terrorists.

US officials believe the drone and missile attacks are being directed by Iranian-backed militias, a reminder of the complex geopolitics in Syria where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad relies on support from Iran and Russia and views US forces as occupiers.

America also considers the possible Turkish attack by the NATO ally in Syria against the terrorists of the PKK / People’s Protection Units as a “threat” to its forces and its so-called partners.

US Army Major General Matthew McFarlane, who leads the US-led coalition against ISIS, called the attacks against US forces “a distraction from our main mission.”

MacFarlane noted progress against ISIS, including reducing IDPs in refugee camps — a group of vulnerable people that ISIS can recruit.

Al-Hol camp is home to more than 50,000 people, including Syrians, Iraqis and other nationals who have fled conflict, and MacFarlane estimates about 600 babies are born there annually.

The general said he believes there will be a time when the United States’ partners in Syria can run their own affairs independently. But there is no publicly known target date for completing this transition.

“Over time, I envision that we transition when the conditions are met where our partners can independently have a sustained ability and capability to keep ISIS under control,” he said.

Besides the European Union, both Washington and Ankara recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, and despite Ankara documenting the fact that the YPG is, in fact, the same terrorist group, continued US support for the terrorists has been a source of great pressure among the allies.

For years, Turkey has vehemently objected to Washington’s assured assistance, including weapons, military training and regular patrols, to terrorists who have attacked Turkey and claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past 40 years.

The terrorist group has used bases across Turkey’s borders in northern Iraq and northern Syria to plan and carry out attacks into the country, working to create a terrorist corridor along the border line, threatening the local Syrian population and the nearby Turkish population.

Since 2016, Ankara has been leading counterattacks against these groups and is striving to establish a 30-kilometer (19-mile) security line, which Russia and the United States also committed to uphold in October 2019.

In the same month, Turkey launched Operation Spring Peace against the PKK/YPG and ISIS in northern Syria, and Washington promised that the PKK/YPG would withdraw from the area. After that, the American forces evacuated all their bases in the region, giving priority to stationing near the oil fields occupied by terrorists in the regions of Hasakah, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. However, it does send millions of dollars in reinforcements to the units there.

Thanks to this assistance, the PKK/YPG has become stronger in northeastern Syria, despite Washington’s promises to Turkey that it will “consult and work closely” with Ankara against ISIS and the PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan frequently criticizes the United States for “turning a blind eye” to Turkey’s concerns over its cooperation with the PKK/YPG despite repeated complaints, stressing that Turkey is “committed to protecting its borders and will not ask anyone’s permission” to cross. Border operations against terrorists.

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