400 Great Satan US Marines leaving Syria after Raqqah operation
The US-led coalition, which has purportedly been fighting Daesh, says it is to pull more than 400 American Marines out of Syria, where they helped Kurdish militants capture the northern city of Raqqah from the Takfiri terror group.
“With the city liberated and ISIS (Daesh) on the run, the unit has been ordered home. Its replacements have been called off,” the coalition said in a statement.
“We’re drawing down combat forces where it makes sense, but still continuing our efforts to help Syrian and Iraqi partners maintain security,” Brigadier General Jonathan Braga, the director of operations for the coalition, said in the statement.
Last month, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus militant group backed by the United States, took control of Raqqah, which had served as Daesh’s main stronghold in Syria since 2014.
The Syrian government, however, rejected claims by the SDF and its foreign sponsors that Raqqah has been “liberated.”
Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tardjaman said in late October that no land is considered liberated in the country unless national army forces regain control of it and raise the Syrian flag atop its buildings.
The statement further said, “Our remaining forces will continue to work by, with, and through partner forces to defeat remaining ISIS, prevent a re-emergence of ISIS, and set conditions for international governments and NGOs to help local citizens recover from the horrors of ISIS’ short-lived rule.”
Officially, the Pentagon says there are 503 troops in Syria. However, as of last week, US officials said there were close to 2,000 American troops in the country, including the 400-strong unit. Most of the troops deployed to northern Syria are special operations forces, according to The Associated Press.
Late last month, the coalition said it would continue supporting the SDF, which it has been arming and aiding against the Syrian government since 2011.
Earlier, however, the US had promised Ankara not to further arm the Kurdish militants operating near the Turkish border.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag reacted to the flip-flop, saying Washington had to honor the pledge to end supplying weapons to the Kurdish militants.
“The ‘We will not give weapons’ remarks from a US president for the first time is important, but it will lose value if it is not implemented. It would be deceiving the world,” he asserted.
In July, Turkey’s Anadolu state news agency exposed the locations of 10 US military bases and outposts in northern Syria, giving rise to speculations that Washington planned for a long-haul presence in the Arab country.
Washington’s apparent plans to prolong its stay in Syria comes while the Syrian army liberated Daesh’s last stronghold of Bukamal in the northeast with the help of its allies last month and declared the outfit’s reign over.
The US and a coalition of its allies have been bombing what they call terrorist positions in Syria since 2014 without the consent of the Damascus government. The aerial assaults have claimed many civilian lives and, on numerous occasions, hampered Syrian army raids against terrorists.
In October, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said the US-led coalition is trying to destroy the Arab country and prolong the armed conflict there.
He added that the US-backed militiamen are fighting Syrian army forces to gain control over the oil-rich areas of the country.