The Pentagon is planning to use small units of Special Forces to carry out missions against ISIS inside Syria after withdrawing its troops from the country, the New York Times reported on December 22, citing U.S. officials.
Under the new plan, U.S. forces in Syria, which are estimated at 2,000 service members, will be redeployed to Iraq than “surge” into Syria to carry out special operations. The plan will also allow the Pentagon to continue its support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its aerial campaign against ISIS in Syria.
U.S. officials told the New York Times that the Pentagon will submit these plans to President Donald Trump before Secretary of Defense James Mattis leaves office in the end of February. Mattis resigned after he had allegedly clashed with Trump on several issues, including the decision to withdraw American troops from Syria.
The Pentagon has not commented on the New York Times’ report yet. However, Dana W. White, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said on December 21 that the military “will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates.”
“The campaign against ISIS is not over,” White added, according to the New York Times.
It remains unclear if Trump would approve these plans, especially that the cost of operations in Syria and the high pressure from Turkey, were among the key reasons that pushed him towards pulling the plug on military presence in Syria. The Pentagon’s new plans don’t address any of these problems.