Top US general visits US base in Northern Syria
The chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff made an unannounced visit to a US base in Northern Syria on Saturday to assess efforts to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State (ISIS) and to review safeguards for US troops against attacks.
Army General Mark Milley told reporters traveling with him that he believed US troops and their Kurdish-led Syrian partners were making progress at ensuring a lasting defeat of ISIS.
Asked if he believed the Syria mission was worth the risk, Milley tied it to the security of the United States and its allies, saying: "If you think that that's important, then the answer is 'Yes.'"
While ISIS no longer has control over any area since its territorial defeat in the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US-led international coalition, hundreds of fighters are still camped in desolate areas where neither the SDF nor the Syrian army, supported by Russia and Iranian-backed militias, exert full control.
Thousands of other ISIS fighters are in detention facilities guarded by the SDF, the key US ally in the country.
A serious concern for the US-led coalition's anti-ISIS mission in Syria has been the air strikes targeting SDF units by Turkey, who has been threatening to launch a broad offensive against SDF, who according to Turkish officials is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
According to reports by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), ISIS has carried out at least 30 attacks since early 2023 in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), and 24 people were killed in these attacks, 19 SDF fighters and members of security forces among them.
Turkish government media ahaber reported Milley's visit under the headline "US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with terrorists from PKK in Syria."