Flashpoints

New in 2020: Will Trump pull the US military out of Iraq and Syria?

Red rover, red rover, send the Bradleys right over. The international game of Red Rover continues in Syria despite the Pentagon’s insistence that U.S. forces are drawing down in the region.

Armored American Bradley vehicles are now routinely seen patrolling areas of northern Syria following President Donald’s Trumps widely criticized October decision to withdraw troops from the country.

Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria following a Turkish incursion into the country. Trump argued he did not want American forces caught in the crossfire between combative Kurdish and Turkish allies.

The American armor and some American commandos are left in Syria on a new mission to keep Syrian oil wells from falling into the hands of a resurgent ISIS. Analysts have argued that Trump simply walked back his decision to remove American troops from Syria.

But the Pentagon argues U.S. forces are still withdrawing despite the addition of armored vehicles with the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, a North Carolina Army National Guard. Soldiers with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, a South Carolina Army National Guard, are also attached to the unit.

President Donald Trump has oft repeated his desire to end the forever wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. But realities on the ground and complex geopolitical entanglements have stymied plans to pullback from the Middle East.

A saber rattling Iran and cruise missile attacks on a Saudi oil facility in September have caused the U.S. to send several thousand more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia.

Moreover ISIS fighters appear to be resurging in ungoverned spaces in Iraq and Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria has slowed the coalition’s counter ISIS mission.

The 303 munitions released by coalition aircraft in October and September have all hit targets in Iraq, with the exception of the October raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria, according to data provided by U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

Trump wants to pullback from Iraq and Syria and may seek to make it a 2020 campaign promise. America’s future troops presence headed into the new year will remain a mystery for now.

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