ISIS all around
It is still argued that the Gulf War that the US had started eventually led to terrorist reprisals at their worst. Once it was the Al-Qaida and then came the ISIS. Peace has been at a premium in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, primarily because of the terrorists pitching in. True, they may not be a massive force but there are enough left to make their presence felt. Among the reasons that the nine-year Civil War in Syria has assumed the proportions it has is because of the ISIS. And this, in spite of the Russians, Iranians, and the Americans trying to thwart their moves. Small wonder that the top US commander in the war against ISIS agreed with the US intelligence community assessment that there are "tens of thousands" of ISIS fighters spread across Syria and Iraq. "They are dispersed and disaggregated, but there are leadership, fighters and facilitators there," Gen. Joseph Votel said during his farewell tour to the Middle East. Votel's comments underscore the testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats before Congress, an assessment President Donald Trump has publicly disagreed with. The statements, however, come as US-backed fighters are in heavy combat in the last area of Syria where ISIS still controls territory. Votel said that operations were resumed in the Middle Euphrates Valley and are currently underway. American officials believe the dispersed fighters may be in a wide swath of Syrian desert. For now, Votel was definitive that all US troops will leave Syria, but he would not put a public timeline on when it will be completed. "The President's orders are very clear to us. We understand exactly what he has directed," he said. However, he also noted the US military will also continue looking for ways to keep the pressure on ISIS and support the SDF without ground troops inside Syria. Understandably, he declined to offer specifics on how that might be accomplished. These comments came as Votel has been preparing to step down as head of US Central Command. His trip, which comes just as the US begins plans to pull troops out of Syria, will include meetings with foreign leaders to thank them for their support. The General, who has served for 39 years, has proved during this visit that Trump's decision to pull out has been hasty and ill-advised.