Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Top US general says Trump did not consult him on Syria announcement

Top US general says Trump did not consult him on Syria announcement

President Trump is standing by his plans to reduce the USA military footprint in the Middle East, but he said he intends to maintain a presence in Iraq to keep tabs on Rival Iran.

"All I want to do is be able to watch", Trump told "Face the Nation" anchor Margaret Brennan.

General Joseph Votel, the four-star Army commander who heads U.S. Central Command, made the disclosure Tuesday during an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the withdrawal orders.

Asked if he meant he wanted to be able to strike Iran, Trump replied: "No, because I want to be able to watch Iran".

We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq.

"Rather than pulling up, and this is what a lot of people don't understand, we're going to keep watching".

Trump initially said the withdrawal would be rapid but the pace has slowed as military officials work out the logistics of the pull-out.

Two attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq occurred this weekend, targeting oil police and other security forces, local media report.

He added: "Any action taken outside this framework is unacceptable".

According to Sky News, Salih said, "Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues". But the SDF is "heavily reliant" on US military support and "unable to conduct offensive operations" that are "meaningful" without American air power, the report said.

Iraq is in a hard position as tensions between its two biggest allies, the United States and Iran, increase.

Salih also said it in Iraq's "fundamental interest to develop good relations with our neighbors, including Iran".

The Iraq Report is a weekly feature at The New Arab.

Despite Trump's order to withdraw, American officials maintain that the goal remains the "enduring defeat" of ISIS and are moving ahead with a long-planned meeting of top diplomats from the 79-member US -led coalition this week. And I'll leave intelligence there.

"The coalition is here at the invitation of the Iraqi government and this was coordinated with the Iraqi Security Forces", he said.

"He didn't ask Iraq about this", Salih said Monday.

United States forces invaded Iraq in 2003, and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. "But we're-yeah, they'll be coming back in a matter of time".

The report echoes what intelligence chiefs told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week - that a vacuum left by the departure of usa troops could be filled by ISIS or al Qaeda in Syria or Iraq.

"The Iraqi constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a neighboring country", he said. He alleged PMF fighters stopped the survey operation after US troops reached the Presidential Palace area near the Mosul Hotel where a PMF headquarter is based.

Some Democrats had anxious Monday's vote could be seen as lending new legal backing to the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against al Qaeda - legislation that has since been stretched to cover US military intervention in more than a dozen countries, including Syria. Many Iraqi officials saw the visit and the Trump's comments as affronts to Iraq's sovereignty. It is something Mr Trump referred to when he visited the base in December.

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