Incredible news from the White House and Trump administration. In an early-morning tweet on December 19th, President Trump announced and celebrated his win over the Islamic State in Syria – one of his biggest campaign promises aside from the border wall.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria,” the tweet reads. “… my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
- Trump officially decided to end the war in Syria earlier this week. Unofficial sources confirmed the decision before it rolled out across major news media outlets the day before Trump’s tweet.
- Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the decision later in the day, indicating that the US Government had successfully, “defeated the territorial caliphate.”
- Despite the culmination of efforts, Sanders was quick to remind people that ending the war would not necessarily end America’s involvement. “These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign,” she explained. “We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.”
- It wasn’t immediately clear how the US will move forward in helping the Syrian people ward off terror, or if it even would. Trump has already ordered around 2,000 troops home, but airstrikes in the area continue as the US Central Command (USCC) puts pressure on hotspots.
- In fact, just last Saturday, the USCC confirmed striking 20 different ISIS fighting units, a number of petroleum tanks, at least one tunnel and a pre-identified mortar-firing position of interest to fighters. All were considered successful take-downs with no American casualties involved.
- It may feel confusing to say a war is won when evidence so clearly seems to point to ongoing conflict. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, clarified this discrepancy in an effort to help American citizens interpret the seemingly mixed messages. “I think it’s fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate, until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring,” he said.
- Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, shared a similar sentiment in early December. “We still have a long way to go and so I’d be reluctant to give a fixed time,” Dunford said during a forum held by the Washington Post.
- US forces have been embroiled in the Syrian conflict since partway through Barack Obama’s time in office, in 2014. Their biggest role is in training local forces to hold off ISIS terrorist and terror cells on their own, even after the US completely pulls out.
- While it’s exciting to hear that Trump believes the war is over, caution is needed – and Trump surely is moving forward with that caution in mind. In volatile situations like the Syrian crisis, pulling out too quickly can lead to resurgence and even more bloodshed. Likely, our troops will be pulled back slowly over time as Syrian leaders step in to take over.