Syrian Democratic Forces and US soldiers, far left, gather prior to launching a renewed military campaign against ISIS in Deir ez-Zor province, Syria, in May 2018. Photo: Delil souleiman/AFP/File
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A Syrian Kurdish leader representing the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supports a Pentagon report about the continued ISIS threat and the group’s possible resurgence.
“If ISIS returns, and there are many reasons for the group to return, it will be capable of controlling areas from Deir Ez Zour to Manbij endangering the situation." Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council told Rudaw in Washington DC on Tuesday.
Ahmed who leads the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) believes that all areas ISIS has lost in northeastern and eastern Syria could once again fall to the group if the threat is not eliminated.
A Pentagon report released on Monday says that ISIS will remain a threat in Iraq and Syria and warns that the group could "resurge" in Syria within six to 12 months.
"ISIS remains an active insurgent group in both Iraq and Syria," U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) told the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General.
Ahmed said, "The Pentagon report is accurate.”
Salih Muslim, head of the PYD Relations said at a conference on on Monday in Amude that they value the presence of US troops in Syria.
He added however, that this did not mean local forces were incapable of defending their own territories.
“We will depend on our own people." Muslim said.
"Our relations with these forces [US] is within the framework of protecting the interests of our nation,” Muslim told the conference organized on the future of Syria. “We did not bring American forces to Syria. We made a self-governing enclave that is able to protect us.”
The commander of US Central Command testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the military is ready to withdraw forces from Syria in a “deliberate and coordinated manner.”
“We are adjusting our military posture in Syria, planning and executing a deliberate, safe and professional withdrawal of personnel and equipment while preserving sufficient power in the region,” Gen. Joseph Votel stated.
US President Donald Trump will deliver a State of the Union Address late on Tuesday, when it is expected for him to mention the ISIS fight in Syria.
Pockets of ISIS militants are still reported to be active in Syria, particularly around the Euphrates and near the border with Iraq.
Update: 6:49 p.m.