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    Shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria (File)

    Daesh Presence in Syria is 'Manna to US' - Veteran War Journalist

    © AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis
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    The White House said that the US has begun the pullout of all of its forces from Syria, while asserting that the troop withdrawal does not mean the end of the coalition to fight Daesh. Experts observing that the US forces could have destroyed the terrorists in a matter of months, but that there is another reason for the rapid withdrawal.

    Sputnik discussed the issue with Elijah J. Magnier, Al-Rai Chief International, veteran war correspondent, terrorism & CT analyst.

    Sputnik: US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, contrary to the recommendations of his national security team. There is footage of American military vehicles leaving Syria. This takes us back to 2013 when US President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of half of the US contingent from Afghanistan. In spite of this US troops are still there. What are the chances that the same situation will happen in Syria?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Trump changed his mind on previous occasions, particularly related to fighting ISIS[Daesh] and the presence of US forces in Syria.

    However, the resignation of his Defence secretary and the US establishment's reaction indicated that he is seriously going forward to fulfil the promises he launched during his electoral campaign.

    I believe the chances of seeing US forces pulling out, perhaps longer than 100 days, are higher than before.

    Sputnik: Trump declared that the US won the war against Daesh. How do you assess the level of involvement of the US in the fight against Daesh?

    Elijah J. Magnier: US forces were not fighting ISIS [Daesh] seriously. We saw how the US and coalition forces bombed the Syrian Army and its allies while attempting to cross the Euphrates or to pursue ISIS[Daesh] in the desert around al-Tanaf, the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing occupied by the US.

    The US halted its campaign against ISIS [Daesh] for many months and was observing how ISIS[Daesh] was living in "peaceful environment" in al-Hasaka and Deir ez-Zor provinces.

    If the US forces were seriously aiming to eliminate ISIS [Daesh], the objective could have been reached in a couple of months, as the Syrian Army and Russia did when liberating Deir ez-Zor and Abu Kamal.

    The presence of ISIS [Daesh] is a bonus to the US: it gives the US a reason to occupy Syria; it drains the Syrian forces in the long term if these are allowed to expand; it keeps the sectarian feeling alive in the Levant.

    All these points are manna to the US, willing to see the area unstable, mainly with Russia and Iran supporting the Syrian sovereignty and unity.

    Sputnik: Syrian lawmaker Peter Marjana characterized Trump's move as "recognition that Syria has won.” What geopolitical consequences could Syria face following Trump’s decision?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Syria will be stronger if the US allows the Syrian army to move in al-Hasaka and liberate the territory. If the US open the road to Turkey first, then a part of Syria can be annexed under Ankara's control.

    Yes, Syria has won and Assad is recognised today as a leader by many Arab and western countries and the regime change objective has failed.

    Sputnik: On December 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara would launch a military operation on Syrian territory in a few days. Now Turkey has declared a delay in the planned military operation. Why is Ankara following in Washington’s footsteps?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Turkey would like to have part of Syria and eliminate the Kurds on its border. Nevertheless, Russia doesn't agree with president Erdogan's intention to occupy part of Syria and is, to date, standing in his way.

    Turkey is a NATO member and would flirt with the US inevitable. However, president Erdogan is trying to create a balance between both superpowers.

    Sputnik: Trump announced that he plans to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan. What is your take on this statement?

    Elijah J. Magnier: It is a recognition of the US failure in the Middle East and in Afghanistan.

    Today, there are 52 provinces in Afghanistan under the Taliban control. This perse is a clear indication of the failure of the US military expansion and hegemony in this part of the world.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Elijah J. Magnier and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Moscow Not Prone to Overestimating US Role in Defeating Daesh in Syria - Kremlin
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    presence, Daesh, withdrawal, troops, Elijah J. Magnier, Syria, United States
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