Eisenkot: U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Is Significant, But No Need to Overstate It

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, shown here speaking at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya earlier this year. (Flash90)

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Sunday called the White House’s decision to pull its troops from Syria a “significant event,” but said the IDF would continue to independently fight Iran’s military presence in Syria.

“It is a significant event, but there’s no need to overstate it,” Eisenkot said, speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. “We’ve been dealing with this front alone for decades.”

Last week, President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in northeastern Syria, a move many analysts fear allows Iran to more easily spread weapons and fighters throughout the Middle East. The U.S. soldiers had been specifically deployed there to fight the Islamic State terror group, but had also helped block the establishment of an Iranian-controlled land corridor from the Islamic Republic through Iraq and Syria, into Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.

“This was an American decision. The IDF has been working independently this whole time, including during the period of American and Russian presence,” said Eisenkot.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also discussed the U.S. decision to pull troops out of Syria at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting Sunday morning.

“The decision to remove the 2,000 troops from Syria will not change our ongoing policy: We will continue to act against Iran’s attempt to establish military bases in Syria, and if necessary we will even expand our operations there,” said Netanyahu.

“I would also like to reassure those concerned – our cooperation with the United States continues in full force and is carried out in many areas: operational, intelligence and many other security fields,” he added.

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