As the general testified Thursday - alongside Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, and Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary of defense for worldwide security affairs - a watchdog organization warned ISIS was already actively re-emerging in areas of Iraq where it had been defeated.
Yazidi woman Salwa Sayed al-Omar, who escaped from the Islamic State, talks during an interview with Reuters near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, in Syria March 7, 2019.
USA and other western countries are backing a Syrian group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, comprised of local Kurdish and Arab fighters who have battled ISIS for more than three years.
"Almost everyone agrees, however, that the Islamic State will live on in some form or another to fight elsewhere-Libya, Europe, the Sinai Peninsula, the Sahel or even Syria", he wrote, claiming that this "half-assed and potentially permanent deployment that may not be capable of accomplishing anything at all".
A group of men were seated on the ground, under the watchful eye of SDF fighters, many of them covering their faces with chequered scarves.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the group spearheading the fight against IS in Syria, has been applying a combination of military force to put pressure on the militants who refuse to surrender, followed by pauses to allow for the evacuation of civilians.
The surrender of dozens of men Thursday could be a sign that the IS fighters inside are starting to wear down.
U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel testifies before the House Armed Services Committee
The SDF was not actively advancing Thursday, out of concern for remaining civilians, but its fighters entered the settlement two days earlier and control a chunk of it, an SDF source told AFP. The territorial defeat of IS, which once presided over a self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate that straddled huge areas of Iraq and Syria, would be a milestone in the devastating four-year global campaign to crush the group. Many Islamic State fighters remained in Baghouz as they left on Thursday, dug into tunnels under the area, the boys said.
"The political conditions of where we are in the reconciliation right now don´t merit" withdrawal", he said.
ISIS now holds "less than a single square mile" of territory in the city of Baghouz out of "an area of 34,000 square miles which they once controlled", Votel said. The official, who could not be identified by name under Pentagon ground rules, said almost all of the 20,000, including women and children, are seen as IS followers or adherents. Women were forced into sexual slavery and boys were taken to be indoctrinated in jihadi ideology.
An exclusive video obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows parts of the pocket of land in the village in Baghouz vacated recently by ISIS members and their families.
Syria's Kurds hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the terrorist group, along with their family members, but their home nations have been reluctant to take them back.
It floated the idea of an global tribunal to try foreign fighters who have fought alongside the militant group in Syria.
In comments aired live on several Turkish news channels, Akar said Russian Federation would patrol the border outside Idlib while Turkey would patrol inside the de-escalation zone. "I acknowledge that, and we have a way to go".