The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria could clear the way for ISIS to regain territory in six to 12 months in their attempts to rebuild a caliphate, according to a Pentagon draft report.
According to NBC News, the report directly contracts the words of President Donald Trump and some of his aides, that ISIS is all but defeated.
“We assess that ISIS will seek to exploit Sunni grievances, societal instability, and stretched security forces to regain territory in Iraq and Syria in the long term,” the report says. “ISIS still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and it maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks, and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world, despite significant leadership and territorial losses.”
“The group will exploit any reduction in CT pressure to strengthen its clandestine presence and accelerate rebuilding key capabilities, such as media production and external operations,” the report continues. “ISIS very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.”
DNI Dan Coats said much the same on Tuesday during the assessment threat presented to Congress, that ISIS “still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.” Trump reacted angrily to the testimony and spent Wednesday denouncing his intelligence chiefs.