On June 9, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called an early withdrawal of US forces from Syria a “strategic blunder” and warned that such move may allow ISIS to recover.
“In Syria, leaving the field before the special envoy Staffan de Mistura achieves success in advancing the Geneva political process we all signed for under the UN security council resolution would be a strategic blunder, undercutting our diplomats and giving the terrorists the opportunity to recover,” Mattis said during a meeting of coalition defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to the Times of Israel.
Mattis also warned that the Damascus government and its allies – Russia and Iran – will take advantage of any early withdrawal of US forces from the war torn country and will fill the resulting power “vacuum.”
“As the operations ultimately draw to a close, we must avoid leaving a vacuum in Syria that can be exploited by the Assad regime or its supporters,” Mattis said.
Mattis’ statement confirms that the US deployed its forces in Syria to pressure the Damascus government and its allies and not only to combat ISIS. Moreover, Mattis’ refusal of an early withdrawal from Syria reveals that the US is planning to keep its forces in Syria for the long term under the pretext of fighting ISIS and countering the Russian and Iranian influence.