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US struggles to get support from allies for Syria

April 24, 2019 at 12:43 am

Syrian government forces’ soldiers display weapons confiscated from the opposition forces in a Syrian army military base in the town of Ezraa, province of Daraa, on 4 July, 2018 [YOUSSEF KARWASHAN/AFP/Getty Images]

US President Donald Trump’s administration has reached out to at least 21 of its allies for troops and logistical support to prevent a resurgence of Daesh in Syria, but nearly half have declined so far, The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday.

The Journal noted that the Trump administration held two rounds of meetings to present its Syria plan in the hope that allies would contribute. One round was held in January in the capitals of seven European allies, while the second round was held in the spring as the US sought assistance from 14 more countries.

Before any of these meetings took place, Trump’s abrupt decision in December to withdraw US forces from Syria was met with significant pushback by close allies in Europe and among some of his closest legislative supporters on Capitol Hill.

“The US has asked those allies to provide support in areas where the US falls short, including air logistics, training, and financial support for stabilisation efforts,” the Journal said. “The request did not ask for specific skills or fixed numbers of troops, but for general support.”

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“Some countries have declined to participate in the military campaign but have pledged humanitarian assistance and stabilisation assistance,” the newspaper added.

Both acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been involved in outreach efforts to US allies.

“We continue to consult with multiple partners and allies to identify areas where they might best contribute to the enduring defeat of ISIS and remain confident that coalition nations will provide the necessary support in Syria,” Dunford’s spokesman, Col. Patrick Ryder, told the Journal, using another name for Daesh.

While there has been a lack of enthusiasm so far, officials told the newspaper they are convinced that enough allies will come to support the US

“It’s a little bit early to say where this is going to settle out,” a senior US defence official told the Journal.

The US military declared the defeat of Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliphate last month.

However, officials believe the terrorist group still has tens of millions of dollars in its reserves, sleeper cells and plans to try to rebuild its caliphate and emerge as an insurgency.