Syria, Isis, Vice President discussed on The Takeaway
On wednesday. A suicide attack in northern Syria killed nineteen people including four Americans in the city of ISIS, his taken responsibility. The attack comes one month. After President Trump first announced that American troops would be pulling out of Syria after having defeated ISIS. Ben Hubbard is the bay reviewer chief for the New York Times. And he's been following the developments he joins us now from Beirut. Ben, welcome back to the takeaway. Thank you. So what do we know about this attack in terms of its targets was this a targeted attack towards American troops seems very clear that this was definitely targeted towards American troops. This took place in the town of men bitch, which is a northern Syria fairly close to the border with Turkey. This is an area that is clearly sort of under American protection. And I think we're the Americans had felt very comfortable. What we heard from people in the town yesterday is that there was a particular restaurant downtown that they like to stop at. They would go there and take breaks when they were. Patrols through town and eats, and whatever. And and yesterday while they happened to be there somebody wearing explosive vests came in and blew himself up. And that's how this terrible event happened. The US led coalition confirmed yesterday that American troops had been killed in this attack. And just an hour later. We heard this statement from vice President Mike Pence I'm gonna play his for you, take a listen, thanks to the leadership of this commander in chief and the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces. We're now actually able to begin to hand off the fight against ISIS in Syria to our coalition partners. And we're bringing our troops hall. The caliphate has crumbled, an ISIS has been defeated. Then you've covered the war in Syria for years. What do you make of the vice president's remarks? Well, part of the trick is how you define what it means for these lawmakers state to be defeated the thing that set this organization apart from a lot of the other terrorist organizations that were familiar with Al Qaeda, and all the other organizations is that their goal from the start was to establish a physical territorial entity. They wanted to have a so called caliphate. You know, this sort of Islamic state that they were going to run, and it was going to have all the trappings of statehood. And so when people the Trump administration talk about defeating ISIS, they're talking about getting rid of the physical caliphate like the physical control of territory and over the last number of years because of intensive American airstrikes and also assistance from American forces on the ground to local local fighters, both in Syria and Iraq, it is true that we've gotten rid of most of the territorial control there still some small pockets here and there where fighting is still going on. And where you know, they're trying to get. Get them out of this territory. So on one hand, it is true that the caliphate has largely been defeated. It's mostly gone in terms of being a territorial entity. But that doesn't mean that this organization and no longer has the power to carry out attacks and to do things like this attack that have managed to carry out yesterday. We know that the vice president was making these remarks, particularly after President Trump made a recent announcement that they would be withdrawing troops from Syria and from the region could this attack be the thing that changes his thinking, it could really go both ways. You definitely have a lot of, you know, a lot of members of congress and a lot of members of the president's own Republican party coming out and saying this just proves that the Islamic state has not been defeated this proves that we need to stay there. So that we can continue to fight them and keep them from coming back and greater power. You know, there there are certainly a lot of people who are arguing that the US does need to stay at this bombing. We saw yesterday is one more piece of proof for all the reasons on the other side. It's it's not hard to imagine a scenario where people say, wait. What like where's that? I've never heard of it. Does it have significant American interests are their oil wells there? Bizarre significant American commerce there the answer to all those questions is. No. So it's not hard to imagine a scenario where you can have some people saying, well, why did four Americans get blown up there? What exactly would we fighting for? And how exactly does that relate to our own security? And so we're just gonna have to wait. I think as the information comes out in the aftermath of this attack and see which way it goes Ben Hubbard is.