ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday said the decision by president Donald Trump will “help the Islamic State” in the region, stressing IS has yet to be completely defeated contrary to the US president’s claims.
“At a time when we are engaged in fierce battles against terrorism in their last strongholds, as well as fighting sleeper cells and terrorist elements hiding in the liberated areas seeking to reorganize themselves in the region, the White House’s decision to withdraw from northern and eastern Syria will negatively affect the campaign against terrorism,” the SDF argued in a statement on Thursday.
The move, the statement continued, “will give terrorism,” and its supporters, “political and military momentum” in the field, allowing them to recover and “carry out a new terrorist campaign in the region.”
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the American president tweeted on Wednesday, justifying his sudden decision which was opposed by a number of US advisors.
The White House released a video where president Trump was seemingly honoring his promise made in April to withdraw troops from Syria. There are still 2,000 US troops stationed in the embattled country.
US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday announced they had “started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.”
The SDF, however, pushed back, stating the fight against IS was not yet over.
According to Pentagon estimates, there are still 15,500 to 17,100 ISIS fighters in Iraq, and an additional 14,000 in Syria. The SDF and other officials in the region have warned the fight against the radical group was ongoing.
“The final defeat has not yet been achieved. We are at a decisive and crucial stage that requires concerted efforts by all, and greater support from the international coalition,” for all combat forces, the SDF claimed.
“The decision to withdraw will directly undermine efforts against the terrorist organization and will have serious implications for the stability [of the region] and world peace,” the statement concluded.
Further instability is already a concern for most in the region, and any vacuum in security may undo the progress made in liberated areas. The General Command of the SDF issued its own warning on the matter.
“Such circumstances could create a political and military vacuum in the region, and abandon the people to the hands of enemy forces.”
Following the unexpected announcement by Trump, coalition officials are expected to meet with northern Syrian political and military bodies regarding the latest developments.
Editing by Nadia Riva