New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria

A new report released by the Department of Defense this week revealed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been emboldened by the partial removal of U.S. troops from Syria and policy shifts in Iraq.

The report, released by the Pentagon's inspector general, details how the drawdown of U.S. troops has forced the Trump administration to rely on third-party monitoring of some areas, including a refugee camp set up by U.S.-backed forces.


The scaling back of U.S. forces, the report continued, has allowed ISIS forces in the area to recruit new members and grow their forces without U.S. interference.

"According to [joint task force officials], the drawdown of U.S. forces in Syria also reduced the ability of [the U.S.-backed mission] to maintain 'visibility' at the al Hol IDP camp, forcing it to rely on third-party accounts of the humanitarian and security situation there," the report reads.

"[The task force] said that it lacks the resources to monitor the camp directly, and that the SDF was only capable of providing 'minimal security'—a deficiency that [officials] said has created conditions that allow ISIS ideology to spread 'uncontested' in the camp," the Pentagon continued.

The buildup of ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq comes after the Trump administration and U.S.-backed forces had pushed the terror group out of its last major holdings in Syria earlier this year, forcing the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, into hiding and driving the group underground.

Local officials now worry that the group's ideology is being spread among inhabitants of refugee camps along the Syrian border where families of ISIS fighters and some former fighters themselves now are staying.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE announced the partial removal of U.S. troops from Syria in December, a move that caused the resignation of Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE.

He backed off of the move in February, agreeing to leave roughly 400 of 2,000 troops in the region.

In March, the White House declared that 100 percent of ISIS-held territory in Syria had been eliminated.