WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S.-led coalition in Syria conducted air strikes last week that destroyed facilities used by Islamic State, the coalition said on Tuesday, less than a week after President Donald Trump declared victory over the militant group and said he would withdraw U.S. troops from the war-torn country.
The coalition said its attacks during the week of Dec. 16-22, including air strikes and “coordinated fires,” had destroyed logistics facilities and staging areas used by Islamic State, damaged the group’s ability to finance its activities and “removed several hundred ISIS fighters from the battlefield.”
“ISIS presents a very real threat to the long-term stability in this region and our mission remains the same, the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said UK Major General Christopher Ghika, the deputy commander of the coalition.
ISIS is a commonly used acronym referring to Islamic State.
That statement presents a contrast to Trump’s declaration last week that U.S. troops had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State and were no longer needed in the country.
News of the withdrawal drew immediate criticism from some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who said that leaving would strengthen the hand of Russia and Iran, which both support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In response to Trump, Britain’s Foreign Office said last week that Islamic State remained a threat even though it held no territory.
The withdrawal may also leave exposed an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militants known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which has been among the most effective against Islamic State, but is now seen under threat as Turkey weighs a new offensive in Syria.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, editing by G Crosse)