Republican senators break with Trump on Afghanistan, Syria withdrawal

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at press conference with foreign media in Bnei Brak

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at press conference with foreign media in Bnei Brak

"ISIS remains an active insurgent group in both Iraq and Syria", the report said, adding that by their estimates there are still some 2,000 fighters in east Syria where American forces operate.

President Donald Trump is expected to declare near-total triumph over the Islamic State group in Syria in his State of the Union address Tuesday, but U.S. defence officials are increasingly fearful that the militants are simply biding their time until the Americans leave the battlefield as planned.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's expressed wish to keep USA forces in Iraq in order to monitor neighboring Iran has exposed American "lies" about fighting terrorism.

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. And it says, "If Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria it is very likely that Islamic State will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence and territorial control".

The inclusion of Iran-backed and Shiite-majority Popular Mobilisation Forces into the Iraqi security forces has also led to warnings that government-sanctioned sectarian militias are exacerbating tensions. The sudden claim rattled top security advisers, and led former defense secretary Jim Mattis to resign from his post.

"While I understand and respect President Trump's desire to bring our troops home and to end these protracted wars, we must do so in a way that ensures enduring stability and protects our interests and those of our allies, the need for caution and reflection as we consider troops withdrawals", South Dakota Republican John Thune said late last week in arguing for the reprimand of the president's decision. The withdrawal was later delayed but as Monday's report pointed out, it is now an ongoing process.

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It said the group was interested in attacking aviation and using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and that there were up to 18,000 Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreign fighters. Remember the United States had acted in a similar manner in the nineties as well.

A decision on troop pullout, especially in case of Afghanistan, needs to be taken now so that its implementation could coincide with the time when the election activity in the U.S. is in full swing, and President Trump could tell the American voters that he did what he pledged, and score political points in his bid to get re-elected as president of the world's sole superpower.

Sponsored by Republican leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, the amendment sailed through 70 votes to 26 (of which only three were Republicans).

It warned that "a precipitous withdrawal" could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russian Federation.

The bill and its easy passage show the deep discontent caused by the policies within the president's own Republican ranks.

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