FNA – Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami described the US claims of withdrawing its forces from Syria after defeating the ISIL as a lie, stressing that efforts by Iran and its allies annihilated the terrorist group.
“We have been able in recent years to fully defeat enemy’s strategy in the region and what they (the Americans) say about defeating the ISIL and leaving the region for this reason’ is not true; they have, rather, been defeated and are leaving the region for this reason,” General Hatami said, addressing a festival in Tehran on Saturday.
He noted that the US started the proxy war with the help of terrorist groups in the region but Iran ended this war, and said, “The enemies wanted to keep the ISIL for 30 to 40 years and support it but we did not allow them” to do their plans.
His remarks came as US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 American forces from Syria in December 2018 amid preparations by Turkey to launch an operation against US-backed Kurdish militants in the Arab country.
A senior official in the Trump administration said the US would only keep approximately 400 troops in Syria after the planned pullout.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Friday that Trump had been persuaded by advisers that about 200 American troops would – along with European forces -observe a potential safe zone in Northeastern Syria.
Some 200 other troops would remain at the US al-Tanf base, situated in Syria’s Homs Province near the Iraqi border, he added.
The remarks came hours after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that only “a small peace-keeping group of about 200 (US soldiers) will remain in Syria for a period of time.”