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Iraqi jets strike Daesh sites in Syria as Trump slows pullout schedule

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command says F-16s struck a two-story house Monday in Souseh
Iraq has regularly coordinated with the US-led coalition to strike Daesh positions inside Syria by air and artillery

JEDDAH: Iraqi warplanes hit a meeting of Daesh leaders near Deir Ezzor in Syria on Monday, destroying the building they were gathered in, the military said in a statement.

The statement said F-16 fighter jets carried out the raid around Al-Sousa village in eastern Syria, as “30 leaders from Daesh gangs” met in the building.

The strike came a day after Iraq’s government hinted at greater involvement for its armed forces in Syria as the US begins withdrawing troops from the country.

But President Donald Trump appeared to backtrack on Monday on shock plans for an immediate pullout of US troops from Syria, but said his drive to end American involvement in wars made him a “hero.”

The shift came as senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump had promised to stay in Syria to finish the job of defeating Daesh.

Trump had earlier stunned allies — and prompted the resignation of his respected defense secretary, Jim Mattis — by abruptly announcing that Daesh was defeated and that US troops in Syria were ready to leave.

However, in a tweet early Monday, President Trump seemed to signal a more cautious schedule for pulling out the troops which support local forces.

“We’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting” Daesh remnants, Trump wrote.

In contrast to previously emphatic victory declarations, Trump said that Daesh “is mostly gone.”

On Sunday, Graham, who is one of Trump’s principal allies in Congress, lunched at the White House to urge a rethink on Syria.

Graham emerged after two hours, saying Trump “understands the need to finish the job.”

“I think the president is committed to making sure when we leave Syria that Daesh is completely defeated,” Graham said.

Another prominent critic of the pullout plan was retired US Army General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, he warned that a US pullout would likely cause “greater instability” in the region.

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