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What’s Behind the Pentagon’s Push to Build New Bases in Iraq and Syria?

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidUS forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017.
US forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017. - Sputnik International
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The White House, responding to pressure from the Pentagon, is asking Congress to grant permission for the construction of more “temporary” US military bases in Iraq and Syria.

In what is seen as a deepening of the Pentagon's commitment to waging war in the devastated region, US Defense Secretary James Mattis has convinced the administration of President Donald Trump to seek permission from Congress to expand military operations into Iraq and Syria, even as Daesh is being destroyed and Mosul has been retaken.

U.S. forces and Afghan commando are seen in the Achin district, Afghanistan. (File) - Sputnik International
Pentagon ‘Pretty Close’ to Completing Afghanistan Policy Review - Mattis

The new "temporary facilities" will increase the likelihood of a longer, more expensive and ultimately more deadly war in a region that is suffering the most dire human rights crisis since the end of World War II.

Trump's White House issued a policy statement on Tuesday suggesting that legal requirements currently in place prevent the Pentagon from expanding into more of Syria and Iraq, even as costly base "repair and renovation" will also include "temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection."

These additional requirements to cover the cost of expanding the war in Syria and Iraq will pay for "facilities, supply points, and assembly areas," according to the White House statement, cited by al-Monitor.

Tuesday's Statement of Administration Policy from the White House will see deliberations in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The Pentagon expansion would allow US military assets in the area to reach out and and attack known remaining Daesh strongholds in the region, according to Corri Zoli, director of research at Syracuse University's Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, cited by al-Monitor.

"It looks to me like what they're trying to do is get a little more maneuverability to create some infrastructure for deepening the fight beyond Raqqa and Syria," Zoli said.

"It's kind of an attempt to create a lily-pad structure in the Levant to go after [Daesh] and their entrepreneurial efforts to start miniature caliphates in the region," she added, according to the al-Monitor report.

The request to expand US military operations in the area comes directly from James Mattis, the current US Secretary of Defense, who "is thinking a couple steps ahead. He wants to win the peace, stabilize the region and militarily pressure Iran," according to Zoli.

Many on Capitol Hill, however, note that Mattis's tactics will draw the US deeper into Syria's densely complicated civil war.

"The US is shooting down Syrian warplanes and Iranian-made drones and launching cruise missile attacks. It opens the spigot for them to establish those kinds of facilities and further entrench the US military presence in Syria for this unauthorized war," according to Kate Gould, a lobbyist with the Quaker group Friends Committee on National Legislation, cited by al-Monitor.

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