The Pentagon's chief spokesman is refusing to say whether the last ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen a day after President Donald Trump announced the caliphate's demise for the fourth time in as many months.
"Wherever ISIS exists, we will continue to pursue them with our partners and allies in the region," Charles Summers told reporters on Thursday at a Pentagon media event.
When asked if the fight to clear ISIS from Syria's Middle Euphrates River Valley has ended, Summers replied, "We continue to fight against ISIS wherever they may be."
Should your friend and humble Pentagon correspondent live for another 50 years, you can expect to read a Pentagon Run-Down in 2069 about how many U.S. troops President George P. Bush III plans to leave in Syria. (Assuming, of course, that Joe Biden doesn't run in 2068.)
Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that up to 1,000 U.S. troops could make up the residual force in Syria. The Pentagon pushed back on that story unusually hard, presumably because defense officials are terrified that Trump will think the military is trying to force him to commit more troops to Syria.
Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, March 18, 2019. (Reuters photo)
BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The operation to take Islamic State's last enclave in eastern Syria looked close to an end on Wednesday, with no sign of clashes as U.S.-backed fighters said they were combing the area for hidden jihadists.
Flares are seen in the sky during fighting in the Islamic State's final enclave, in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 11, 2019 (Reuters/Rodi Said)
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran and Syria on Monday demanded the United States withdraw its troops from Syria, and the Damascus government threatened to defeat Washington's Kurdish allies by force if they did not submit to the return of state authority.
A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter looks as smoke billows after an airstrike hit territory still held by Islamic State militants in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (Associated Press/Felipe Dana)
GENEVA (Reuters) - ISIS is down to its last few hundred fighters and less than a square kilometer of land in a battle for its final Syrian stronghold, although it may have 15,000-20,000 armed adherents in Syria and Iraq, U.S. envoy James Jeffrey said on Friday.
U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, talks to Gen. Chiya, commander of Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria's Middle Euphrates River Valley, during a meeting in Dawr Az Zawr Province, April 22, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy R. Koster)
Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have cornered ISIS fighters in the village of Baghouz, the terrorist group plans to go underground and wage an insurgency long after it has been cleared from its last stronghold, the head of U.S. Central Command told lawmakers on Thursday.
"We should be clear that what we are seeing now is not the surrender of ISIS as an organization – but a calculated decision to preserve the safety of their families and preservation of their capabilities by taking their chances in camps for internally displaced persons and going to ground in remote areas and waiting for the right time to resurge," Army Gen. Joseph Votel said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.