The Pentagon's Office of Inspector General released a report Monday that said ISIS is likely to try to leverage the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria as a "victory," CNN reported. It also said that ISIS is likely to regain territory after the U.S. leaves.
What's the story?
On Monday, the Pentagon's Inspector General for the U.S. military mission in Syria, which is dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, released a quarterly report covering the time period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.
According to the report, U.S. Central Command said:
ISIS may conduct opportunistic attacks on U.S. personnel as they withdraw but will leverage the event as a "victory" in its media. ISIS remains an active insurgent group in both Iraq and Syria. 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 ISIS will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence and territorial control. Currently, ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria, but absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory in the [Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV)].
On Dec. 19, the Trump administration announced that it would be pulling all U.S. forces from Syria. In a tweet that same day, President Donald Trump declared, "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency."
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1545229789.0
What else did the report say?
The report also mentioned that Turkish attacks against Kurdish positions were causing U.S. Kurdish allies to pull away from fighting ISIS in order to defend its own territory. While the Kurds have proven themselves to be invaluable in the fight against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, Turkey views all Kurds as terrorists because of the actions of an ethnically Kurdish militant group inside its own borders.
In June, the U.S. and Turkey agreed to a deal called the "Manbij Roadmap" in order to prevent a Turkish invasion of the strategic Kurdish city of Manbij. The report said that when U.S. troops withdraw, it is "unclear what would occur with the Manbij agreement."