The Defense Intelligence Agency concludes that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria aided the Islamic State, according to a report released earlier this week.
In addition, the DIA’s assessment — part of a quarterly report — concluded that Turkey’s military offensive, which was linked to the pull-out, also aided ISIS.
The report concluded that the Islamic State “exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S. troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad.”
The report was released Tuesday by the Pentagon’s inspector general.
The preparation of the report for release was delayed past its Sept. 30 deadline due to the “significant developments” last month resulting in a U.S. troop drawdown, according to Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine.
Since then, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has announced that between 500 and 600 U.S. forces wold remain in Syria — some at a base in the country’s south and the others in northern oil fields.
The president decided to begin withdrawing U.S. forces after an early October phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The decision drew bipartisan criticism from Congress for allegedly abandoning Kurdish allies the U.S. relied on to fight ISIS forces.
Turkey has often said it views Kurdish forces in Syria as terrorists.
The White House pushed back against the accusations, noting that the president promised during the 2016 campaign to extract American forces from so-called ‘brushfire wars’ around the world.
Also, Esper and other administration officials said it was imperative to remove U.S. troops from harm’s way because Turkey had made the decision to invade northern Syria anyway.
As for the DIA report, analysts concluded that the Islamic State is “postured to withstand” the recent death of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The report noted that ISIS probably will maintain “continuity of operations, global cohesion, and at least its current trajectory.”
Absent U.S. “counterterrorism pressure, ISIS will likely have the ‘time and space’ to target the West and provide support to its global networks and branches,” DIA said.