Daesh has been cornered by the PYD/YPG-dominated militia in a battle for the terror group’s last territory in Syria.
President Donald Trump on Friday said the United States would be announcing the end of Daesh’s once-sprawling so-called “caliphate” within the next 24 hours.
“We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate and that will be announced over the next 24 hours,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.
Daesh has been cornered by the US-backed PYD/YPG-dominated SDF militia in a battle for the terror group’s last territory in Syria.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organisation. In its 30-year terror campaign against the Turkish state more than 40,000 people, including women and children, have been killed.
Turkey, the US and the EU recognise the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
Washington has backed the SDF in Syria despite its terror links. US policy has put it at odds with Turkey’s insistence that relying on one terrorist group to fight another does not make sense.
With the defeat of Daesh’s self-declared ‘caliphate’ imminent, US troops are set to withdraw from SDF-controlled areas, prompting a repositioning of the remaining players in the region.
US troop withdrawal
In December, Trump’s surprise announcement that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria helped trigger the resignation of his defence secretary, Jim Mattis, and sent US military officials scrambling to construct a withdrawal plan that preserves as many gains as possible.
Hundreds of additional troops have been sent to Syria to facilitate the withdrawal.
US officials have long estimated that the Syria pullout could take until sometime in March or April to execute fully, but have been reluctant to set an exact timeline given hard-to-predict battlefield conditions.
Earlier this week, US Army General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, cautioned that the exact timing would depend on the situation in Syria, where US-backed militants have launched a final assault against Daesh enclaves near the Iraqi border.
The US military has already started withdrawing equipment from Syria.
Asked whether the withdrawal of America’s more than 2,000 troops would begin in days or weeks, Votel said, “Probably weeks. But again, it will all be driven by the situation on the ground.”
“In terms of the withdrawal … I think we’re right on track with where we wanted to be,” Votel told reporters travelling with him during a trip to the Middle East.
“Moving people is easier than moving equipment and so what we’re trying to do right now is again kind of clear out those materials, that equipment, that we do not need.”