A Pentagon spokesman told reporters Tuesday the U.S. intends to keep its forces in Syria indefinitely to maintain its commitment that ISIS will not return.
"We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to, to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups," Eric Pahon said.
The U.S. has more than 1,700 soldiers in Syria using the 2001 congressional authorization for the us of military force against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups as its justification. The Syrian regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad, however, says it did not invite the U.S. into its territory and the soldiers are there illegally.
So far, Syrian officials say they are seeking a diplomatic end to the U.S. military presence. Russia, which has effectively provided all of the Assad regime’s military muscle, has taken a dim view of the U.S. presence, but has not overtly threatened any military action of its own.The U.S. presence could also serve as a leverage point to get Russia’s help to remove Iranian forces from Syria.
At last report, there is still approximately 3,000 ISIS fighters in the country. The terrorist group claimed responsibility Tuesday to a deadly bomb attack on a bus in Homs that killed eight people.