After Trump Declaration, Islamic State Launches Attack On U.S.-backed Kurdish Forces In Syria
Less than two days after United States President Donald Trump declared the Islamic State defeated and announced a military pull-out from Syria, the terrorist group launched a major assault on American-supported Kurdish fighters. ISIS targeted the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up primarily of Kurdish YPG units, in the eastern Hajin area, an attack being construed as a show of strength following the White House’s decision to vacate the country. That move has raised concerns among analysts that Russia and Iran, along with the latter’s Shiite proxies such as Hizbullah, will now have free reign to dictate developments on the ground; this, while leaving the Kurds exposed to a potential offensive by Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the banned PKK that has waged a decades-long insurgency against Ankara. According to SDF sources, only about 35 percent of the Hajin region—the last bastion in Syria with a significant ISIS presence—is under its control. Following the ouster last year of the Islamic State from its de-facto “capital” Raqqa, many of its members fled to the remote deserts in the east and some estimates suggest that the terror group still has thousands of loyalists at its disposal. American media reported that President Trump made the decision to withdraw following a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and without then consulting his cabinet and senior military advisers. The subsequent resignation of Secretary of Defense Jim Matthis has reinforced the perception that the U.S. president acted impulsively and in contravention to the interests of its Middle East allies that view America’s regional presence as a bulwark against Tehran’s expansionism and potential nuclearization.