Top general not consulted before Trump's Syria pull-out decision

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The commander said while the original 34,000 square miles of territory held by the terrorist group has been reduced to less than 20 square miles, Daesh still retains leaders, fighters, facilitators and resources.

The amendment called on the Trump administration to certify conditions had been met for the groups' "enduring defeat" before any significant withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan.

He added that territory under Islamic State's control had been reduced to less than 20 square miles (5,180 hectares) and would be recaptured by US-backed forces prior to the USA withdrawal, which he said would be carried out in a "deliberate and coordinated manner".

"Absent sustained (counterterrorism) pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory", the report from the Pentagon's inspector general said. It led both Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and the US's top envoy to OIR Brett McGurk to resign.

Trump revealed his decision to withdraw all US forces from Syria in December, declaring that the USA had defeated Islamic State and no longer needed to deploy troops in Syria.

Votel was asked at Tuesday's hearing whether he was asked for his advice about a Syria withdrawal before Trump announced his decision. US policy has been to keep troops in place until the extremists are eradicated.

Trump said in a weekend interview that the caliphate is "almost knocked out".

Trump's America-first slogan gives him all the justification to look the other way when his attention is drawn towards the mess a hasty troop withdrawal would leave in Afghanistan, which is bound to take its toll in the neighbouring countries, most importantly Pakistan - yet again.

"We're at 99 percent right now, we'll be at 100", he said on CBS' "Face the Nation".

He gave the committee assurances that the US will seek to protect the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who have led the fight against ISIS in Syria, and the Syrian-Kurdish fighters within the SDF.

Officials say that overall, there are about 2,000 Islamic State militants in Syria.

He added the planning for a withdrawal includes devising ways to keep pressure on ISIS, but he declined to discuss strategies in an unclassified setting.

Addressing Trump with sarcasm in remarks carried by official media, Rouhani said: "You say you stay in Iraq to watch Iran, while before that you were saying you stay there for fighting terrorism".

The report, citing information from US Central Command, said Islamic State would portray the withdrawal as a "victory" and conduct attacks on American personnel during the pullout process. The aim of the conference is to recommit the coalition to that aim and ensure that the departure of USA troops does not overly complicate that mission.

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