News

National Security & Defense

Pentagon Watchdog: ISIS ‘Likely’ to ‘Resurge’ in Syria

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrate the first anniversary of Raqqa province liberation from ISIS, in Raqqa, Syria, October 27, 2018. (Aboud Hamam/REUTERS)

ISIS “could likely resurge in Syria,” according to a new report by the Department of Defense inspector general.

“According to the DoD the effort to defeat ISIS continues as ISIS remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that ‘could likely resurge in Syria,’” the report warns.

U.S. Central Command told the inspector general that ISIS remains able to “effectively coordinate military offensives and counter-offensives” in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and is “very likely” to create favorable conditions for regaining control “if Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria.”

“Currently, ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria, but absent sustained pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory,” the report says.

President Trump caught Congress off guard with his December 19 announcement that he planned to withdraw the approximately 2,000 troops currently stationed in Syria, and his simultaneous declaration that ISIS “has been defeated.” The president has also promised to withdraw about half of the close to 14,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The terrorist group also “may conduct opportunistic attacks” on withdrawing U.S. troops, and “will leverage the event as a ‘victory’ in its media,” the IG’s report says.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI director Christopher Wray, and CIA director Gina Haspel expressed similar concerns in their testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

“As the Syrian regime consolidates control, the country is likely to experience continued violence,” warned the U.S. intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment, which accompanied the intelligence chiefs’ testimony. “Russia and Iran probably will attempt to further entrench themselves in Syria.

“ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria,” Coats told Congress.

Trump pushed back on the intelligence community’s appraisal of the situation, saying the “caliphate will soon be destroyed.”

“We’ve done an incredible job with Syria. When I took over Syria, it was infested with ISIS. It was all over the place. And now you have very little ISIS, and you have the caliphate almost knocked out,” Trump told CBS.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.

LEARN MORE

Most Popular

White House

The Damning Inspector General’s Report

It is hard to believe that the run-up to the presidential-election year has plumbed such a depth of farcical degradation. It must be that Trump’s influence has contributed to unserious responses, but he can’t be blamed for the unutterable nonsense of his opponents and the straight men of the political class ... Read More
White House

The Damning Inspector General’s Report

It is hard to believe that the run-up to the presidential-election year has plumbed such a depth of farcical degradation. It must be that Trump’s influence has contributed to unserious responses, but he can’t be blamed for the unutterable nonsense of his opponents and the straight men of the political class ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
World

Present at the Demolition

Economists at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund must feel pretty lucky these days. They work for just about the only institutions set up in the aftermath of World War II that aren't in the middle of an identity crisis. From Turtle Bay to Brussels, from Washington to Vienna, the decay of the economic ... Read More
World

Present at the Demolition

Economists at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund must feel pretty lucky these days. They work for just about the only institutions set up in the aftermath of World War II that aren't in the middle of an identity crisis. From Turtle Bay to Brussels, from Washington to Vienna, the decay of the economic ... Read More
World

Well . . . .

So much for my prophecies of doom. Britain's Conservatives won, and they won with a very healthy parliamentary majority, breaking through Labour’s “red wall” across the industrial (and post-industrial) Midlands and the North. The BBC: Leave-voting former mining towns like Workington, which was seen as ... Read More
World

Well . . . .

So much for my prophecies of doom. Britain's Conservatives won, and they won with a very healthy parliamentary majority, breaking through Labour’s “red wall” across the industrial (and post-industrial) Midlands and the North. The BBC: Leave-voting former mining towns like Workington, which was seen as ... Read More
White House

The Costs of Trivializing Impeachment

Resorting to a vague “abuse of power” theory, the House Judiciary Committee Friday morning referred two articles of impeachment to the full House on the inevitable party-line vote. The full House will impeach the president next week, perhaps Wednesday, also on the inevitable party-line vote. The scarlet ... Read More
White House

The Costs of Trivializing Impeachment

Resorting to a vague “abuse of power” theory, the House Judiciary Committee Friday morning referred two articles of impeachment to the full House on the inevitable party-line vote. The full House will impeach the president next week, perhaps Wednesday, also on the inevitable party-line vote. The scarlet ... Read More
World

The U.K. Elections Were the Real Second Referendum

In the end, it wasn’t close at all. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party met a fate to which it has been accustomed for most of the last half-century. Once again, the British roundly rejected socialism. Boris Johnson and his conservatives will form the next British government. This was no slight rejection. Labour ... Read More
World

The U.K. Elections Were the Real Second Referendum

In the end, it wasn’t close at all. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party met a fate to which it has been accustomed for most of the last half-century. Once again, the British roundly rejected socialism. Boris Johnson and his conservatives will form the next British government. This was no slight rejection. Labour ... Read More