Iraqi popular commander: US syria pullout “old trick” to run regional crises

FNA – Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the forces commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Shaabi, warned that the US claims about a pending pullout from Syria an old game by Washington to run crises in the region.

“The US claim of pullout from Syria to Iraq is an old trick,” al-Muhandis said on Monday.

He underlined Washington’s support for the terrorist groups in the region, and said, “The US security and military bodies are after running the crises in the region.”

Al-Muhandis warned of the US plots against the region, and said, “As Kurdish forces have witnessed, the Americans can never be trusted in the region.”

US President Donald Trump announced late last month of his decision to withdraw forces from Syria immediately.

But, later other US officials modified the position by saying that the pullout would be done under specific conditions.

Then President Trump rephrased his earlier announcement to declare that he had never vowed to do the pullout fast, modifying his earlier statements when he had said that some troops are already coming back home.

A Lebanese military expert said on Monday that the US Army would keep some of its troops in its al-Tanf base along Syria’s Eastern borders in a bid to protect the terrorists in that region.

Brigadier-General Amin Hatit said one of the main reasons for reinstating some of the US troops in al-Tanf military base is to help the US-backed militants in the region.

He noted that the US has realized that in case of retreating from al-Tan region, the terrorists stationed in the region will face the Syrian Army’s military operations, and said that the US is planning long-term presence in al-Tanf region to maintain security of terrorists.

Brigadier-General Hatit, meantime, pointed to the location of al-Tanf region in a triangle of Syria, Jordan and Iraq and deployment of the terrorists by the US in the region, and said Washington should account for helping the Syrian terrorists in the vicinity of Iraq and Jordan.

The Lebanese military expert, meantime, pointed to doubts pertaining to the exit of US troops from Syria, and said that the US troops stationed in al-Sedqeh garrison in the Euphrates will probably remain there for good and other forces of the airbase near Hasaka will also remain for long-term in that region.

The remarks by Brigadier-General Hatit came as a senior US official has recently said part of the US troops would stay in Syria, specially al-Tanf base.

Arab media outlets and activists said on Monday that the US has not yet withdrawn troops or equipment from Northern Syria, adding that Washington has even dispatched more military convoys to the region.

The US has dispatched hundreds of military trucks comprising weapons and military equipment to Deir Ezzur province in Eastern Syria since President Donald Trump declared his decision to withdraw troops from the country, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

The SOHR said that a military convoy comprising a sum of 150 trucks carrying cars and logistic military equipment has been dispatched to the regions under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) specially on Eastern Euphrates from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

The SOHR noted that it was the third US military convoy sent to Syria after Trump’s decision on exit of the American troops from Syria, and said that a total number of 500 trucks containing weapons and military equipment have been dispatched to Eastern Syria so far.

On Saturday, the Arabic-language Xeber 24 news website affiliated to the Kurds reported that a large military convoy, consisting of 120 trucks carrying weapons and military equipment have arrived at al-Shadadi base in Hasaka province.

It added that despite US President Donald Trump’s claims of withdrawing troops from Syria, the American military men are still in their bases and no soldier has left the region.

Meantime, the SOHR reported that withdrawal of the US heavy military vehicles from Eastern Euphrates towards Iraq has not yet been monitored officially.

The SOHR reported that the Turkish media reports sating that the US has withdrawn its forces from a base at the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border were related to the US forces’ traffic between Syria and Iraq.

The SOHR had also reported on Sunday that a long convoy of almost 200 US army trucks, carrying weapons, munitions and logistical equipment, left the US bases in Iraq on Saturday and arrived in coalition bases in Raqqa, Manbij and Ein Issa in Northeastern Syria.

The Kurdish militia reported that the trucks arrived in the town of Amouda and left then for the US-run bases in Northeastern Syria, adding that the arms and ammunition cargo is to be delivered to the SDF.

Meantime, Iraqi sources reported that Washington had deployed large groups of soldiers in Western Iraq, including a number of its military forces who were earlier stationed in Syria.

The sources were quoted by Russia’s RT news channel as saying that dozens of US troops stationed in Syria had relocated to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province in Western Iraq.

“Reports that the US forces who have left Syria are now stationed in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan region are not all true. A major part of these forces have gone to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province and a number of others have been deployed in the military bases in other Iraqi provinces,” they added.

According to the sources, the US forces are still stationed at the Iraqi-Syrian borders and have not left Syria completely.

An informed source said on Saturday that a large number of state-of-the-art US-made weapons had been dispatched to Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Anbar province.

“A number of US military planes, carrying weapons and military equipment, arrived at Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Baghdadi region in the town of Hit in Western al-Ramadi. No reason has yet been cited for these flights to the airbase and the details about the weapons which are said to be advanced,” the source was quoted as saying by Iraq’s al-Wa’e news agency.

He added that a few days ago, a large number of US military vehicles had also arrived at Ein al-Assad, noting that the American forces take assistance from the security companies for transferring military equipment to their positions in Iraq and the military men are sent to different places on planes.

Iraq’s Ein al-Assad airbase hosted US President Donald Trump on December 26 before the New Year. Trump underlined in his remarks that he did not intend to withdraw forces from Iraq at all.