BAGHDAD – The US transfer of troops from Syria to Iraq is a plan for re-stationing ISIS terrorists in the country’s western province of Anbar, a senior Iraqi lawmaker said.
After withdrawing from Syria, the US troops will station at American military bases in Iraq, a senior member of the Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee Karim al-Mahmadawi told the Arabic-language al-Ma’aloumeh news website, adding that the whole transfer of troops is a plan to re-organize the ISIS in Iraq’s western desert province of Anbar.
He added that US forces will be stationed at bases in Anbar and Salah al-Din provinces and that the US government has given them a green light. Washington is trying to bring back ISIS to Iraq by moving its forces from Syria to Iraq, the legislator said. The Iraqi lawmaker insisted that Washington, through deploying its troops from Syria to Iraq, is after returning ISIS terrorist elements to Iraq to resettle them in the Anbar desert, west of Iraq.
“Washington has chosen the present time for its military withdrawal from Syria because the [Iraqi] government is grappling with a crisis of public demonstrations and popular anger,” al-Mahmadawi continued.
He noted that the US government, through its support for demonstrations in Iraq, is trying to target the political process in Iraq to pave the ground for bringing terrorism to Baghdad.
The initial withdrawal of US forces from Syria on October 9 was followed by reports that hundreds of the ISIS prisoners had escaped from Kurdish prison camps amid the chaos of the Turkish incursion. Responding to critics on Monday, US President Donald Trump boasted that it was his administration that oversaw their capture in the first place.
“I’m the one who did the capturing. I’m the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits,” Trump said.
The future of the 1,000 or so American troops in Syria has remained unclear since the withdrawal was announced, and conflicting reports have circulated as to whether some will stay in Syria to “secure” its oil facilities.
Trump stated on Monday that they will all be removed and deployed elsewhere in the region before eventually coming home. However, Defense Secretary Mark Esper noted earlier that some may remain behind to “guard” Syrian oil fields against possible seizure by ISIS terrorists.
“We have troops in towns in northeast Syria that are located next to the oil fields, the troops in those towns are not in the present phase of withdrawal,” Esper told reporters in Afghanistan on Monday.
Even if Trump follows through with a complete pullout, some of the troops withdrawn may simply relocate to Iraq.
Meanwhile, as Trump touts his withdrawal as a move towards ending the US’ “endless wars” in the Middle East, thousands of American troops are preparing to deploy to Saudi Arabia, to guard its oil wealth against perceived “Iranian aggression”.
At the cabinet meeting, the president questioned what US troops were doing on Syrian land in the first place. He had no such qualms about the Saudi deployment, however, as he said that “Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing”.