United States Army General Mark Milley made an unannounced visit to an undisclosed base in northeastern Syria on March 4 to assess the mission against ISIS and to review safeguards for American troops against attacks.
During the visit, Milley, who serves as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Army Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane.
Asked by reporters traveling with him if he believed the deployment of some 900 U.S. troops in Syria was worth the risk, Milley tied the mission to the security of the United States and its allies, saying: “If you think that that’s important, then the answer is ‘Yes.’”
“I happen to think that’s important, So I think that an enduring defeat of ISIS and continuing to support our friends and allies in the region … I think those are important tasks that can be done.”General Mark Milley
Milley’s visit signals that the Biden administration is planning to keep U.S. troops in the war-torn country in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for the long-term.
The U.S. military presence in Syria is not limited to the northeastern region. The coalition also maintains a garrison in the southeastern area of al-Tanf. The garrison blocks a strategic highway between Syria and Iraq.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the “illegitimate visit” by Milley, accusing the U.S. of turning a blind eye to ISIS crimes, stealing grains and oil from the northeastern region and backing SDF “separates”.
“Syria strongly condemns this flagrant violation by the U.S. military official of the sovereignty and inviolability of its lands and territorial integrity, and calls on the American administration to immediately stop its systematic and continuous violations of international law, and to stop its support for separatist armed militias,”Syrian Arab News Agency.
Milley’s visit came just a few weeks after four U.S. service members and a working dog were wounded during a counter-ISIS helicopter raid in the governorate of Deir Ezzor. It also came following a rocket attack that targeted the coalition’s Green Village base, which is located within al-Omar oil fields in the southeastern Deir Ezzor countryside. The attack was unofficially blamed on Iranian-backed forces.
Damascus and its allies are growing frustrated with the U.S. illegitimate military presence in the country. However, a military confrontation remains unlikely.
Source: South Front