SDF commander calls for coalition troops to stay in Syria

The commander of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria on Monday called for approximately 1,500 international forces to remain in Syria to help fight the Islamic State (ISIS) while expressing hope for a halt to Washington’s total withdrawal from the region, Lebanese Daily Star newspaper reported.

"We would like to have air cover, air support and a force on the ground to coordinate with us," Mazloum Kobani, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. -backed Kurdish-led forces, told a small group of reporters at an airbase at an undisclosed location in northeast Syria.

The statements by Kobani followed talks with senior U.S. generals, including head of Central Commander Joseph Votel on Monday.

There was discussion about French and British troops supporting the SDF in Syria, Kobani said, stressing that he wanted at least "a partial group of American forces," numbering no more than 2,000 in Syria, to remain as well.

The SDF form the bulk of the U.S. -backed ground troops fighting ISIS in Syria.

Votel, following the meeting, said he was still carrying out President Donald Trump's December order for a complete U.S. withdrawal of American forces. 

"We certainly understand what they would like us to do, but of course that's not the path we're on at this particular point," the Daily Star quoted Votel as saying.

Stressing that the discussion is not concerning U.S. forces staying in Syria, Votel said that Washington has looked at what coalition forces "might be able to do" in the region.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2019/Feb-18/476884-sdf-calls-for-1500-coalition-troops-to-stay.ashx