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A report from the Pentagon inspector general found that President Donald Trump's decision to rapidly pull troops out of Syria and divert attention from diplomacy in Iraq has inadvertently aided the Islamic State's regrouping in Syria and Iraq.
The Department of Defense's quarterly report to Congress on the effectiveness of the US Operation Inherent Resolve mission said that "ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria, and it intensified its insurgency in Iraq" — even though Trump said ISIS was defeated and the caliphate quashed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Many officials and experts have repeatedly warned that a rapid US withdrawal from Syria would enable ISIS to regroup into an insurgency after their battlefield defeats by the US-led coalition.
The IG's report also explicitly said the troop drawdown in Syria, which Trump announced at the end of last year, contributed to instability in the region. The drawdown, which prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left the US's Syrian partners in the lurch, without the training or support they needed to confront a resurgent ISIS. In Iraq, the Iraqi security forces lack the necessary infrastructure to fight off ISIS for sustained periods.
ISIS is estimated to have 14,000 to 18,000 combatants, according to the report, who are carrying out assassinations, suicides, crop burnings, and ambushes in Iraq and Syria — different from the large-scale attempts to seize territory since 2014 but a violent threat to civilians in both countries nonetheless.
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