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Top US general: Trump wrong on Syria pullout, ISIS defeat

The top U.S. military commander in charge of the battle against Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Syria on Friday said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE's order to remove U.S. forces from Syria came prematurely, adding that he would not have made the same decision.

Gen. Joseph Votel told CNN that U.S.-backed forces on the ground in the country are not ready to take over the duty of eradicating ISIS militants in area.

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"It would not have been my military advice at that particular time ... I would not have made that suggestion, frankly," Votel told CNN of Trump's plan to withdraw troops.

ISIS "still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network," he continued.

Votel added that the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces, led by Kurdish fighters, still required "our enablement and our assistance" to battle effectively against ISIS militants.

"We want (ISIS) to be able to be controlled or addressed by the indigenous partners, whether that's the Iraqi security forces in Iraq, or the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria, that when they are capable of handling this threat on their own, without our assistance," Votel said.

"[T]hat will be another key criteria indicating to me that we have accomplished our mission of defeat of ISIS," he said.

Votel's comments come as the president has battled criticism from both sides of the aisle over his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and his declaration of victory over ISIS, which has lost most of its held territory in Syria.

Trump's move is credited with spurring the resignation of James MattisJames Norman MattisProgressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper Talk grows of Trump firings at Pentagon, CIA MORE as Trump's defense secretary, and Brett McGurk as the administration's top envoy to anti-ISIS coalition forces.