US general says no pressure to complete Syria pullout

The top US military commander in the Middle East says he has not faced pressure to complete the pullout of US troops in Syria by a specific date.

Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads US Central Command, makes the remarks in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.

“What is driving the withdrawal of course is our mission, which is the defeat of ISIS and so that is our principal focus and that is making sure that we protect our forces, that we don’t withdraw in a manner that increases the risk to our forces,” Votel is quoted saying by Reuters, using an acronym for the Islamic State jihadist group.

“There is not pressure on me to meet a specific date at this particular time,” he adds.

Trump’s surprise announcement in December to pull all US forces out of Syria was met with concern by some American lawmakers and among allies such as Israel, which sees the US presence as a check on Iran’s military expansion in Syria.

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