U.S. in Syria for the long haul, says Pentagon official

The United States expects to be in Syria “for the long haul,” Kurdistan 24 news site reported Michael Mulroy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defence, as saying on Tuesday.

The United States was “not in a bad situation” in Syria, Mulroy said, adding that the country has “ a very capable partner,” referring to the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF.)

U.S. President Donald Trump in December made the surprise announcement of the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. soldiers from Syria, citing the near defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region. Turkey has long criticised Washington’s support for the Kurdish militia Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the Kurdish-dominated SDF in Syria fighting ISIS. 

Mulroy stressed that the territory controlled by the SDF contains “a lot of the oil resources and the arable land for agriculture,” adding that U.S. forces are “there with them.”

Turkey sees the YPG and its umbrella group, the SDF, as terror organisations, the U.S. and its global partners consider them reliable partners against ISIS.  

Last week, the SDF announced total victory against ISIS after taking the last stronghold in Syria.

The United States and Turkey are discussing a safe zone in northern Syria, which Turkish officials insist must be under the Turkish troops' control whereas the Syrian Kurdish forces oppose any new Turkish intervention in the region