MUNICH AFP Feb15, 2019
Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan struggled Friday to convince sceptical allies in the coalition fighting the Islamic State to help secure Syria once American soldiers pull out.
As US-led Arab and Kurdish forces were fighting in the last IS territorial holdout in Syria, 13 defence ministers of the anti-IS coalition met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
Shanahan, the US acting defence secretary, pledged ongoing backing for the fight -- but kept allies guessing as to how that would be achieved once US forces pull out, and won no solid pledges
“While the time for US troops on the ground in northeast Syria winds down, the United States remains committed to our coalition’s cause: the permanent defeat of ISIS, both in the Middle East and beyond,” he said.
He pledged that the US would “maintain our counter terrorism capabilities in the region” and “continue to support our local partners’ ability to stand up to the remnants of ISIS” -- but gave no details about how this would be done.