ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Amb. William Roebuck, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Special Envoy for the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, on Tuesday visited northeast Syria, where he informed local officials that the US will keep some troops in the region east of the Euphrates River to prevent the return of the Islamic State.
“Roebuck noted that the White House decision to keep part of its troops in the area east of the Euphrates comes within the framework of the US desire to eliminate ISIS, ensure that it does not return, and stabilize security in the north and east of Syria,” the media office of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) .
The US State Department did not release a summary of Roebuck’s visit.
The White House last week first that it will leave some 200 troops in eastern Syria—a figure that was subsequently doubled to 400—even after the planned withdrawal of the 2000 US forces now there.
The new US position paves the way for the creation of a security zone, with international observers along the Turkish-Syrian border, after the US withdrawal.
Amjad Othman, official spokesperson of the SDC, the US decision, saying that it “will help in the fight against ISIS” and “help maintain stability in the region,” as well as “protect us against Turkish threats.”
Roebuck visited the cities of Tabqa and Raqqa to discuss the future of the area, now that the Islamic State is nearly defeated in Syria, its remnants besieged in the village of Baghuz by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDC, the political affiliate of the US-backed SDF, said Roebuck promised that the US-led coalition will continue the fight against terrorism with its SDF allies to ensure the security and stability of northeastern Syria.
Roebuck visited local officials, including tribal leaders in Tabqa and Raqqa, and also met with Ibrahim al Qaftan, head of the Future Party in Raqqa.
“The US attitude towards regions of northeastern Syria is clear, and it is contributing to the complete elimination of the terrorist organization,” Roebuck said.
Qaftan explained that the inhabitants of northeastern Syria support a Syrian-Syrian dialogue that paves the way for a comprehensive solution of the Syrian crisis, through the drafting of a constitution that will address the demands of all Syrians to create a decentralized, democratic country.
Roebuck has had several previous meetings with senior officials in northeastern Syria. In August 2018, for example, Roebuck visited Deir al-Zor tribal leaders in al-Basira, which lies in the countryside east of Deir al-Zor.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie