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Trump Wants to Withdraw, Pentagon Reluctant to Stop Playing ‘Manager’ in Syria

© AP Photo / APTVAmerican soldier standing on an armored vehicle
American soldier standing on an armored vehicle - Sputnik International
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US President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to claim once again that Daesh has been defeated during the State of the Union address. However, a new Pentagon inspector general report says the group is on the verge of resurging within six to 12 months.

University of Ottawa professor Kamal Dib, the author of "Syria in History" and "The Damnation of Cain: The Natural Gas Wars From Russia, Iran, and Qatar, to Lebanon and Syria," tells Sputnik that "short of an unequivocal and clear statement" from US officials declaring an end to the war in Syria, "anything else is part of the diplomatic and media arsenal, as more military efforts are prepared to carry on with the war."

"The Iraqi and Turkish frontiers are fully open to such military efforts to force a change of government in Syria," explained Dib, who has written extensively about the region.

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The Defense Department's inspector general for Operation Inherent Resolve, the name of the military engagement against Daesh elements in Syria and Iraq, said Daesh "remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters" in a report published Monday.

Other scholars took exception to the Pentagon assertion that Daesh is well-disciplined in comments emailed to Sputnik News. "The data show that ISIS is less disciplined than most militant groups in terms of targets they strike, the attacks they claim, and the members they accept into their organization," said Max Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northeastern University and author of "Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History."

"When the Syrian army and its domestic allies score victories, diplomacy and media kick in, and the situation is cooled off — only to start another military campaign. This was repeated since 2012, and Syria saw a parade of various mercenary armies, armed, funded and sponsored by Turkey, some Arab countries and Western states, with the US playing a major role as a manager of sorts," Dib said.

An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street. - Sputnik International
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"Such proxy armies included the ‘Syrian Free Army' in 2011 and early 2012; the Nusra Front in 2012 and 2013; the ISIS in 2014 and 2015; along with a plethora of 40 or so Islamic militias. They are all united in the single aim of causing the toppling of Syria and replacing it with a conservative Arab regime that would join the ranks of countries under the US' umbrella," the professor continued.

Trump announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria in December, yet US officials have told the inspector general "that US Syria policy has not changed." On Tuesday, US Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he was not consulted by Trump before the announcement that troops were leaving.

Dib predicted that "[w]hile Syria is today is in a much better position, following the series of victories against the mercenary armies, the coming months (probably years) would carry more of the same in the ongoing Syrian conflict."

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