- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, warned Wednesday that the threat of the Islamic State has increased over the span of the year as U.S. forces vacated a key region in northeast Syria, leaving behind allied forces who had led the ground war against the terrorist organization.

“I think it’s worse in the sense that, at the beginning of the year we had the [Kurdish-led] Syrian Defense Forces with us there, all the way up in northeastern Syria, and we were working every day to eliminate the vestiges of [ISIS]. So now you don’t have that,” the retiring Texas lawmaker told The Washington Times.

President Trump in February declared that ISIS was “100% defeated” in Syria and military officials echoed his statement that the territorial caliphate was nearly destroyed. Mr. Trump has insisted his withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Syria will not impair the fight against Islamic State remnants.

But Mr. Thornberry told a group of reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday that “the ISIS network is certainly not demolished.”

His comments come as the Pentagon finishes pulling troops out of a zone along the Turkey-Syria border and as Russian and Syrian government troops enter the disputed territory.



Mr. Thornberry, who announced last month he will not seek reelection next year, recently traveled with a bipartisan congressional delegation to Afghanistan and Jordan, meeting with U.S. troops as well as government officials to reassure nervous allies in the wake of the recent troop withdrawal.

He said one of the consequences of President Trump’s decision was the “unpredictability, the suddenness of the decision.”

Even troops in the ranks are “kind of wondering what decision may come next that will affect them,” Mr. Thornberry added.

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