Pentagon plans to 'annihilate' IS fighters




A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, removes an Islamic State group flag in the town of Tabqa, April 30, 2017
A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, removes an Islamic State group flag in the town of Tabqa, April 30, 2017

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump has instructed the Pentagon to "annihilate" the Islamic State group in Syria in a bid to prevent escaped foreign fighters from returning home, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday.

The move to encircle then kill as many jihadists in place as possible -- rather than letting them exit a city and targeting them as they flee -- reflects an increased urgency to stop battle-hardened jihadists bringing their military expertise and ideology back to European capitals and other areas.

The president has "directed a tactical shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS," Mattis said, using an acronym for IS.

"The intent is to prevent the return home of escaped foreign fighters."

Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to quickly defeat IS, signed an executive order soon after taking office giving his generals 30 days to come up with a revised plan to wipe the jihadists out.

The review resulted in the new "annihilation campaign" and saw commanders gain greater autonomy to make battlefield decisions.

Critics of Barack Obama's administration frequently complained of White House micromanagement and a lengthy approval process causing delays on the ground.

Mattis called foreign fighters a "strategic threat" should they return home and said the annihilation effort would prevent the problem from being transplanted from one location to another.

- Arming the Kurds -

The US-led coalition has been battling IS since late summer 2014, supporting local fighters on the ground with a combination of considerable air support, training and weaponry.

Trump this month authorized the United States to arm the Kurdish faction of an alliance fighting IS in northern Syria, much to the consternation of Turkey, which views them as terrorists.

Though the jihadists have lost 55 percent of the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria and over four million people have been liberated, IS still controls the Syrian stronghold Raqa, swaths of the Euphrates River valley and other areas including a small part of Mosul in Iraq.

Operations in Syria are further complicated by the country's tangled knot of groups fighting in the civil war.

Russia joined that conflict in late 2015 to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, bringing a new dimension of complexity and risk.

General Joe Dunford, who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted the US is working successfully with Russia to "deconflict" military operations in Syria.

The two sides established a hotline to inform each other of their forces' location to avoid any mishaps.

Dunford hinted the US had a "proposal" to further enhance deconfliction, but he didn't give any details.

"My sense is that the Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to deconflict operations and ensure that we can continue to take the campaign to ISIS and ensure the safety of our personnel," he said.

Separately, the Pentagon announced that Dunford has been nominated to serve a second two-year term in his job as the country's top military officer.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Myanmar protesters try to block aid shipment to Muslim Rohingya
Myanmar protesters try to block aid shipment to Muslim Rohingya
  • World
  • 2017-09-21 06:10:20Z

By Andrew R.C. Marshall SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) - Buddhist protesters in Myanmar threw petrol bombs to try to block a shipment of aid to Muslims in Rakhine state, where the United Nations has accused the military of ethnic cleansing, before police fired in the air to disperse them. Hundreds of protesters

'We're embarrassed too': How John Kelly reacted to Donald Trump's threats against North Korea
'We're embarrassed too': How John Kelly reacted to Donald Trump's threats against North Korea

John Kelly, Donald Trump's chief-of-staff, appeared to go through an "existential crisis" on Tuesday, social media users joked, as he listened to the president's address to the UN General Assembly. Mr Trump used his maiden address to the world's leaders to escalate his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge, threatening to "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people and mocking its leader, Kim Jong-un, as a "rocket man." A great and important day at the United Nations.Met with leaders of many nations who agree with much (or all) of what I stated in my speech!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017 It was...

Trump takes 'America First' to wary U.N. audience
Trump takes 'America First' to wary U.N. audience

President Trump will use his maiden speech to the U.N. General Assembly to condemn Iran, call for global action on North Korea, and unapologetically defend his nationalistic "America First" stance before wary world leaders, administration officials said. Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the annual diplomatic crush in New York, but Trump will at least implicitly criticize Beijing in his Tuesday speech for not doing enough to tighten an economic vise on North Korea.

Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West
Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of land revered for natural beauty ...

Hillary Clinton Won't Rule Out Questioning The Legitimacy Of Donald Trump's Election
Hillary Clinton Won't Rule Out Questioning The Legitimacy Of Donald Trump's Election

Hillary Clinton opened the door to possibly questioning whether Donald Trump was legitimately elected president, depending on the outcome of investigations into Russia's role in the 2016 campaign.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.