US Senate rebukes Trump over Syria, Afghanistan pullouts

Iraqis call for US troops to be expelled after Trump's remarks

Pentagon: ISIS will regain ground in Syria when US troops leave and will play troop withdrawal as a 'victory'

Maine's Sen. Angus King, an independent, asked the general, "So, you weren't consulted before that decision was announced?"

"I was not consulted", he said, adding that he was broadly aware of Trump's "desire and an intent in the past to depart Syria".

"It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate", Trump said.

That decision prompted the resignations of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Special Presidential Envoy to the Counter-ISIS campaign Brett McGurk.

Across town, Maj. Gen. James Hecker, the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee "there will be a decrease in the amount of pressure that we will be able to apply" on ISIS because of the USA troop pullout, according to The Associated Press.

The US has been leading a coalition to crush the Islamic State group which grabbed swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, and multiple offensives have since ousted the militants from all but a sliver of territory in eastern Syria. No timeline has been publicly discussed as to when the withdrawal of all American forces will be completed, but military officials expect it to be out by spring.

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He said the wall will be built in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and "where walls go up, illegal crossings go way, way down".

Also on Tuesday, the US Senate passed a major piece of Middle East legislation that includes a non-binding yet symbolic amendment that openly opposes any abrupt withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

They were ousted by Afghan opposition forces, backed by USA forces, for harbouring al-qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

A Defense Department watchdog report released Monday says the Islamic State group "remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that "could likely resurge in Syria" absent continued counterterrorism pressure".

He claimed that his decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions on the country has put enormous pressure on the regime and stifled its regional ambitions, as well as slowed its ability to obtain a nuclear weapon. "It does have certain components that are still left in it, although they are dispersed and disaggregated they have the capability of coming back together if we don't", Votel said.

In the February 5 speech, Trump made passing reference to his decision to withdraw all USA troops from Afghanistan and Syria - a decision that has anxious US allies. But in a comment that came shortly after he highlighted an increase in USA military spending, he warned that in the absence of such a deal, "we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far".

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"It is important to understand that even though this territory has been reclaimed the fight against ISIS and violent extremists is not over and our mission has not changed", the general said, using another name for Daesh.

He said: "The US presence in Iraq is a part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific task which is to combat terrorism".

The new deal has not yet been ratified, but Trump said Tuesday it would boost US manufacturing jobs and automobile production, while also helping the agriculture sector and offering protections for intellectual property.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, State Department officials likewise insisted that the 5,200 or so USA troops in Iraq - according to the last official Pentagon count from 2017 - remained focused on that mission.

Votel also warned the senators that taking pressure off ISIS could allow the terrorist group to regain its strength, becoming the latest top official to stress this point. Trump also said USA forces in Iraq could form a check on neighboring Iran. He reaffirmed his pledge to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and Syria, sought praise for undoing the Iran nuclear deal, suspending a missiles treaty with Russian Federation and for opening dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"Remnants - that's all they have, remnants - but remnants can be very unsafe", he said.

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His comments come amid renewed efforts in both the House and Senate to block United States support to the Saudi-led coalition. "Foreign Minister, we're with you", he told Hakim. "For this reason, my administration recognised the true capital of Israel - and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem", Trump said.

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