A bombshell new report from the Pentagon’s inspector general claims that Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria and his decision to rapidly cut back on diplomacy in Iraq has caused a resurgence of ISIS across the Middle East.
The report was part of quarterly reporting from the Department of Defense to Congress on the progress of military intervention against ISIS. The report noted that ISIS is in transition from an organization that held large amounts of land, to an insurgency in Syria and Iraq conducting terrorist attacks and other paramilitary operations. As The Wall Street Journal noted, this was in direct contrast to Donald Trump’s boasts that ISIS had been defeated.
The report was harsh in regard to Donald Trump’s decision in Syria, saying that his decision to draw down troops had led to instability in the region, leaving partners in the lurch and without the training they needed to confront ISIS in its transition to an insurgency. It also noted that the Iraqi security forces lacked the standing to take on ISIS for sustained periods, Business Insider noted.
Despite Trump’s declaration that ISIS had been defeated, the report noted that the militant group is still able to cause havoc in the region, assassinating opponents, conducting ambushes, and even burning crops.
As Business Insider noted, Trump’s abrupt decision to draw down troops in Syria drew significant criticism at the time it was announced. Defense Secretary James Mattis publicly resigned in protest, with the Syria troop decision reportedly his motivation. Mattis’ resignation letter did not directly mention Syria, but officials told the New York Times that Mattis had gone to personally speak with Trump at the White House in an attempt to convince the president to keep American troops in Syria. Trump rebuffed him and went forward with the troop withdrawal anyway.
ISIS is "re-surging" in Syria less than five months after President Donald Trump declared the terror group's caliphate there had been 100% defeated -Pentagon inspector general's report https://t.co/LlT3FKebCJ— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 7, 2019
Defeating ISIS had been a major 2016 campaign promise for Donald Trump, who said frequently that he had a “secret” plan to defeat the Islamist militant group. After taking office, he announced what he said was a new strategy that Vox noted looked much like the Obama administration’s approach to fighting ISIS — one that Trump had mocked as “stupid” and “a total failure.”
The plan called for fighting militants by retaking territory ISIS had conquered during lightning-fast strikes across the region in 2014 and early 2015, while also not getting involved in the ongoing civil war in Syria.