ISIS will resurge as Trump walks away from Syria, warns former US defence secretary Mattis

"If we don't keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge," said former US secretary of defence James Mattis.
"If we don't keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge," said former US secretary of defence James Mattis.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Former US secretary of defence James Mattis, who left the job last year when President Donald Trump suddenly withdrew most US forces from Syria, said the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror network is not snuffed out, as the president thinks.

"We may want a war over; we may even declare it over," Mr Mattis said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" to be broadcast on Sunday (Oct 13).

"You can pull your troops out - as president Obama learnt the hard way, out of Iraq - but the 'enemy gets the vote', we say in the military," Mr Mattis said.

Mr Trump's decision last week to pull remaining US troops from helping out Kurdish fighters, which allowed Turkey's immediate ground offensive against the Kurds in northeastern Syria, has led to a "situation of disarray", said the former Marine Corps general who once led US Central Command.

Mr Trump has said in recent days that it is time to bring US troops home because they have done their job defeating "everyone that we're supposed to defeat".

But Mr Mattis said that is not really the case.

"If we don't keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge," Mr Mattis said in a partial transcript provided by NBC. "It's absolutely a given that they will come back."