Senate breaks from Trump with Syria troop vote

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The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to caution President Donald Trump against swift U.S. troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

"I was not aware of the specific announcement", General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday, according to CNN.

Trump revealed his decision to withdraw all US forces from Syria in December, declaring that the USA had defeated Islamic State and no longer needed to deploy troops in Syria.

Many people, including members of Trump's own Cabinet, were opposed to the withdrawal.

"Absent sustained (counterterrorism) pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory", the report from the Pentagon's inspector general said.

It called upon the Trump administration to certify conditions had been met for the groups' "enduring defeat" before any significant withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan.

During an interview with CBS television aired on Sunday, Trump reportedly said that the important role of US troops in Iraq is "to watch Iran", sparking anger and rejection in Iraq.

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw American troops from Syria shocked American military officials and US allies alike.

At nearly the same time the report was released, the US Senate was approving an amendment critical of Mr Trump's Syrian and Afghanistan withdrawal.

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"I was not consulted", he added.

The highly respected Votel, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command, also appears to be at odds with Trump on the resiliency of ISIS and the terror group's ability to surge again once USA troops leave.

"The coalition's hard-won battlefield gains can only be secured by maintaining a vigilant offensive against the now largely dispersed and disaggregated ISIS that retains leaders, fighters, facilitators, resources and the profane ideology that fuels their efforts".

U.S. officials in recent weeks say Islamic State has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and is holding on to fewer than 10 square kilometres of turf in Syria - an area smaller than New York's Central Park.

Last week, U.S. intelligence chiefs also broke with the president, saying Islamic State would continue to pursue attacks from Syria, as well as Iraq, against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.

Officials said that overall, about 2,000 ISIS militants remain in Syria.

Addressing Trump with sarcasm in remarks carried by official media, Rouhani said: "You say you stay in Iraq to watch Iran, while before that you were saying you stay there for fighting terrorism".

Trump is expected to speak to the gathered foreign ministers at the U.S. State Department-hosted conference on Wednesday is widely expected to reiterate and expand on his anti-ISIS message from the State of the Union, officials said.

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