The US has reduced ISIS's territory

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The US military commander overseeing American troops in the Middle East has told a Senate hearing that he was not consulted ahead of Donald Trump's surprise decision in December to pull US troops out of Syria.

"I don't think it is particularly useful in monitoring Iranian activists outside of Iraq or Syria", said David Witty, a retired colonel in the US Army Special Forces.

"I was not aware of the specific announcement". But he added that he and others in the high command knew in general terms of Trump's "desire and intent in the past to depart Iraq, depart Syria". "I want to be able to watch Iran. We can come back very quickly, and I'm not leaving", he said. His "little serpent" reference was to Saddam Hussein, who was overthrown that year after the U.S.

While Trump has hailed "tremendous progress" in his dealings with North Korea, a confidential report by United Nations sanctions monitors seen by Reuters this week cast further doubt on the North's intentions.

He said the troops would soon be moving to the huge Al Asad Airbase in Iraq's Anbar province and that their new tasks would include protecting Israel and keeping an eye on Iran, which his administration has accused of being the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and of wanting to acquire nuclear weapons. The president later declared that he would also be pulling some 7,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, where his administration is involved in peace talks with the Taliban-something that also got a shoutout in tonight's speech.

The proposed bill also enoys the support of Iranian-backed blocs in the parliament, The New Arab reported in December but pressure from the prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has so far blocked it, as he tries to balance Baghdad's relations with its two rival allies, the U.S. and Iran.

Votel said he was not under pressure to withdraw US troops from Syria "by a specific date" and had not "had any specific conditions" placed on him. He was expected to announce details of the summit with Kim during his annual State of the Union address to Congress later on Tuesday.

The developments come after US President Donald Trump visited a US military base in western Iraq in December a year ago.

The report, citing information from U.S. Central Command, said ISIS would portray the withdrawal as a "victory" and conduct attacks on American personnel during the pullout process.

ISIS may conduct opportunistic attacks on US personnel as they withdraw but will leverage the event as a "victory" in its media.

"Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues", President Saleh told a forum in Baghdad on Monday.

Shortly after announcing the pullout, the USA demanded Turkey guarantee the safety of the Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria when America leaves the region.

Salih, speaking at an global forum in Baghdad, cautioned Trump against putting his own country's foreign policy agenda over Iraq's, stating that Trump should not "pursue your own policy priorities".

Votel estimated there are about 1,000 to 1,500 ISIS fighters in Syria trapped in a 20-square-mile area, the last portion of the group's physical self-declared caliphate.

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