State Refutes Russia’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Syria: ‘There Are Still Pockets’ of Islamic State

A member of the Iraqi forces walks past a mural bearing the logo of the Islamic State (IS) group in a tunnel that was reportedly used as a training centre by the jihadists, on March 1, 2017, in the village of Albu Sayf, on the southern outskirts of Mosul. Iraqi …
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. State Department has reproached Russia’s assertion that the terrorism problem in Syria has been “solved,” saying America’s war against jihadists in Iraq and Syria “is not done.”

Consistent with actions taken in the past, President Vladimir Putin recently ordered the Kremlin to begin withdrawing Russian troops from Syria, declaring that the end of Russia’s “large-scale combat actions” in the war-devastated area is coming soon.

Putin made similar claims last year, alleging that the majority of Russian troops in the war-torn country would start to pull out, but they remained engaged.

Asked to comment on the Russian president’s most recent announcement, Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman at the State Department, told reporters on Tuesday:

It’s interesting, Russia may consider its job in Syria to be done. Our job in Syria is not done. And when I say “our,” I don’t just mean the United States, I mean the entire coalition. There are still pockets of ISIS. The country still needs to be stabilized. We were just talking about rubble removal and we were talking about demining. If Russia chooses to pull out, certainly, that is its choice to do so, but we continue to work through all our partners to try to stabilize the country.

She stressed that America’s “job is not done” in neither Syria nor Iraq, adding:

It’s not done in Iraq, even though Iraq has declared victory over ISIS. It’s not – it’s still not done there because there are still individuals there who belong to ISIS, who will take part, undoubtedly, in terrorist activities. Syria, the job is far from done there, unfortunately.

According to the Pentagon, there are nearly 2,000 U.S. active and reserve American troops in Syria.

Although ISIS’s demise in the war-torn country is imminent, al-Qaeda has grown stronger in the country and has set up the conditions to establish an Islamic emirate, various experts have warned.

“There’s a lot of work left to be done in Syria. We wish that weren’t the case, but it is the case, and we’ve made a lot of progress on this. And again, when I say ‘we,’ I don’t mean the United States, I mean the entire coalition has made a lot of progress. But it’s not finished yet,” declared the State spokeswoman.

During a recent visit to Syria, President Putin indicated that current conditions provide “a real chance” to bring the civil war in the country to an end. The Syrian war has been raging since 2011.

“The large-scale combat actions against terror groups in Syria are coming to an end,” declared Putin, according to the state-owned TASS news agency. “I note that the efforts of Russia, Iran, and Turkey have helped to prevent Syria’s breakup, not allow its takeover by international terrorists and avoid a humanitarian crisis.”

Putin also said, “The task of fighting armed bandits here in Syria, a task that it was essential to solve with the help of extensive use of armed force, has, for the most part, been solved and solved spectacularly. I congratulate you!”

Citing unnamed U.S. officials and independent experts, Reuters noted in late 2015 that Russia had deployed an estimated 4,000 troops to Syria.

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