US support to northeast Syria should continue, in order to avoid the risk of a growing terror threat, a top US military official said when he unexpectedly visited US troops in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled north east.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited a US base in the region to evaluate the mission led by armed Kurdish groups against the Islamic State (ISIS) since 2014.
The jihadist group has escalated its activities northeast Syria in recent months, as the attacks of the Turkish military on Kurdish forces and drones flown by Iranian-backed militia have created a security vacuum.
Reporters asked Milley whether the deployment of roughly 900 US troops in northeast Syria was worth the risk. Referring to the security of the United States and tying it to the situation in Syria, Milley said, “If you think that that’s important, then the answer is ‘Yes’,” Reuters reported.
“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,” he said.
Milley also told reporters travelling with him that he “wanted to check on force protection,” because US troops deployed in the region were “exposed to indirect fire attack”, North Press news agency reported.
“Unless you support and devote the correct amount of resources to it, things will get worse,” the agency quoted the general as saying.
If the United States completely ignores the region, it will set the conditions for a resurgence of ISIS, said the general.