Former Defense Secretary James Mattis Warns 'It’s Absolutely a Given' ISIS Will Come Back

Posted: Oct 13, 2019 10:40 AM

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned ISIS will be a threat once again following President Trump ordering U.S. troops out of northern Syria ahead of a military invasion by Turkey.

"Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd asked Mattis if the United States should be worried about the future consequences of "abandoning an ally like the Kurds."

"I think Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo, the intelligence services, the foreign countries that are working with us have it about right that ISIS is not defeated," Mattis said.

"We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover. We may want a war over, we may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out, as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the enemy gets a vote, we say in the military. If we don’t keep pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back," he explained.

Reports of ISIS fighters, who were being held in camps in northern Syria, have been able to escape as Turkey's military advances further into the country.

Mattis submitted his letter of resignation in December of 2018 after Trump announced at the time his intention to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria. The retired Marine Corps general also wrote how it is important to have allies and to treat them with respect.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.

While Mattis planned on leaving in February the following year, Trump replaced him with then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at the beginning of 2019.