Heavy fighting as US-backed Syria force breaches final ISIS pocket

Heavy fighting as US-backed Syria force breaches final ISIS pocket

"The sticking point between us and the U.S.is [their] choice of allies".

Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, considers them terrorists and has vowed to drive them out of the northeastern Syrian territory seized from the militants as soon as the Americans leave.

The US military has already started withdrawing equipment from Syria. The SDC has encouraged a phased approach that would ensure less instability.

Votel's comments underscore the testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats before Congress, an assessment President Donald Trump has publicly disagreed with.

Islamic State is far from defeated, and instead is morphing into an asymmetrical warfare force after the militant group lost nearly all of the territory it once controlled in Syria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.

Trump is moving ahead with his plan to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria, despite warnings from USA military and security experts that militants in Iraq and Syria could prepare an insurgency if USA -led forces back off. But with members of his own administration warning against a hasty withdrawal, the United States military will likely stay in Syria until the end of April, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

But a clear US plan on how to keep up the pressure has yet to be articulated.

Nevertheless, the process of pulling out is underway on the ground, as the removal of equipment in recent days was first reported by CNN, which quoted an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.

Officials from several European countries have expressed concern about a potential "vacuum" once the USA withdraws. At the same time the U.S. held specific discussions with Turkey on aa variety of working groups, and also with Arab allies, about Syria. Turkey has been opposing the presence of Kurdish militia in the north of Syria, claiming that the militants posed a threat to the country's security.

On the Iraqi side of the border, French members of the coalition on Saturday stood ready to pour fury on any jihadists trying to escape.

The Pentagon's Inspector General published a report last week that warned if American troops leave Syria, the Islamic State would "likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory".

"Time will tell how this decision will be implemented in practice".

The SDF said it has not been in communication or agreed the ceasefire with IS. The coalition has been training and providing air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which launched an offensive on the last pocket of jihadist territory in September 2018. The YPG-dominated group ousted Daesh terrorists who had captured the town from moderate opposition in January 2014. "But again, it will all be driven by the situation on the ground".

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