Top US general makes rare visit to Syria

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley
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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley made a rare and unannounced visit to Syria over the weekend, reiterating what he said is the importance of a U.S. presence in the war-torn country.

In the visit to an Army base in the northeast of Syria, Milley met with soldiers and assessed the U.S. military’s efforts to prevent any resurgence of the Islamic State in the country, which once held vast swaths of land in both Syria and Iraq. Even as the group’s geographic caliphate fell in 2019, there are still pockets of the group that are camped out in remote areas.

Milley said that the U.S. presence in Syria, which includes a deployment of about 900 troops, was directly tied to the security of the U.S. and its allies.

“If you think that that’s important, then the answer is ‘Yes,’” Milley told reporters when asked if the deployment of troops in Syria was worth the risk, according to Reuters. “So I think that an enduring defeat of ISIS and continuing to support our friends and allies in the region … I think those are important tasks that can be done.”

American officials have warned that the group could reemeerge as a major threat once again in underscoring the important of a U.S. military presence in the region.

The public has largely grown weary of direct U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts, especially the deployment of troops, after decades of war in the Middle East. But a poll conducted by The Hill in 2019 found that most Americans supported the U.S. presence in Syria.

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