Mark Milley visits Syria for the first time as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with US forces End-shutdown


The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, visited Syria on Saturday, according to a statement from his office, marking his first visit to the country as the top US general.

Milley met with US troops in northeast Syria, who are there as part of the campaign to defeat ISIS, and inspected force protection measures, his spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned what it called Miley’s “illegal” visit to the US military base, saying it was a “blatant violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to the state news agency SANA.

Two weeks before Milley’s visit, US and coalition forces in Green Village in Syria came under rocket fire, according to US Central Command. Two rockets struck near the base, CENTCOM said. No US or coalition troops were injured and there was no damage to the base.

Just two days earlier, four US soldiers and a working dog were injured in a helicopter attack on a senior ISIS leader in northeastern Syria. The raid killed Hamza al-Homsi, CENTCOM said. Troops were injured in a “target explosion,” the command said, though it was unclear if it was a suicide vest, grenade or other explosive that injured troops.

The United States maintains approximately 900 troops in Syria. While in the country, Milley also reviewed ongoing repatriation efforts from the al-Hol refugee camp, which is home to more than 60,000 displaced people, including 25,000 children.

Repatriation efforts have been a particular focus of General Erik Kurilla, commander of US Central Command, who has visited the camp three times since taking office on April 1, 2022. Kurilla’s most recent visit was in mid-November, when he warned that children in the camp are “prime targets for ISIS radicalization.”

In February, US forces carried out 15 operations associated with local forces, including the Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces, as well as two US-only operations, according to CENTCOM. The operations led to the death of five ISIS agents and the arrest of 11 others, the command said.

This story has been updated with additional reaction.

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