The Pentagon isn’t buying into the claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Russian are pulling a “significant part” of their troops from Syria after their mission in the war-torn country has been completed.
Putin visited the country on Monday and it is estimated to have 10,000 active duty troops and private contractors currently in Syria. But his message of “mission accomplished” is being met with a healthy dose of skepticism in Washington.
But Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said such declarations were not necessarily reflected by action.
“Russian comments about removal of their forces do not often correspond with actual troop reductions, and do not affect US priorities in Syria,” he said. A US official told AFP that Putin was likely to carry out a “token withdrawal” of some aircraft, then follow up by demanding the United States pulls its forces out of Syria. The US military last week said it would stay in Syria, where it is fighting the Islamic State group, as long as necessary to ensure the jihadists don’t return.
The “coalition will continue to operate in Syria in support of local forces on the ground to complete the military defeat of ISIS and stabilize liberated territory, in turn allowing for displaced Syrians and refugees to return,” Rankine-Galloway said.
The Syrian civil war against the government of President Assad started off as simply protests against the strongman’s totalitarian regime. But soon escalated into civil war. With the addition of the Islamic State, trying to set up a “caliphate” inside Syria, the US became involved, supporting peshmerga units in 2015.
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