US' Mattis says no recommendation yet on troop levels for Afghanistan

US' Mattis says no recommendation yet on troop levels for Afghanistan

US' Mattis says no recommendation yet on troop levels for Afghanistan

He explained that by "taking the time up front to surround these locations, instead of simply shoving them from one to another" coalition forces are able to "carry out the annihilation campaign so we don't simply transplant this problem from one location to another". Because the foreign fighters are the strategic threat should they return home to Tunis, to Kuala Lumpur, to Paris, to Detroit, wherever.

Mattis emphasized that there has been no change to the rules of engagement concerning the use of force or in avoiding civilian casualties. But less than four months after Trump took office, Mattis said the operational and tactical difference has been clear.

"Since this began in 2014, the coalition has strengthened and expanded", the secretary said.

He declined to put a timeline on defeating ISIS, calling it a "transnational, long-term threat".

It's not yet clear how this change will affect the size and scope of USA troop deployments to Iraq and Syria.

The Trump administration is giving more leeway to field commanders and focusing on annihilating Islamic State forces, top U.S. officials said.

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US Defence Secretary James Mattis said today he was yet to make any recommendations to President Donald Trump on the number of troops in Afghanistan, but hoped an ongoing review about it would be completed soon.

"But it is the Iraqis paying most of the cost".

He said the USA had fought ISIS elements from Southeast Asia to Africa.

However, the Iraqi forces have gotten much better and far more competent, the chairman said.

East Mosul has fallen after tough fighting by the Iraqi Security Forces with USA and coalition support, he said, adding that since January it has been a bit normal with businesses reopening, cleanup underway and kids back in school.

Dunford said the flow of foreign fighters into ISIS in the region has slowed from 1,500 per month to less than 100.

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Mattis, Dunford and McGurk all defended the USA decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria to help seize Raqqa, Islamic State's stronghold in Syria, over strong objections from Erdogan, who contends the Kurds are allied with Kurdish groups in Turkey who are considered terrorists. We're there to drive ISIS to its knees.

The chairman told reporters he is working to expand the already huge coalition against ISIS.

"Collaboration among many nations' intelligence services continues to complicate and blunt ISIS operations even as ISIS continues to pursue and conduct attacks against the United States and our allies through centralise directed plots, also through inspired attacks", he said, giving an update to reporters on the progress in the fight against ISIS.

"We don't have a government to work with and we will never work with the Assad regime", he said.

The initial focus on de-mining key facilities is a critical coalition focus.

American forces would support a group of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces driving southeast along the Euphrates from Raqqa toward Deir el-Zour, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the military details and demanded anonymity. "To date in Mosul, 116,000 displaced civilians have returned, 250,000 boys and girls are back in school and we're working to ensure that these trend lines continue".

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McGurk added that ISIS's propaganda output is also down significantly.

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