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US to continue Syria air war for now

Smoke billows from a target hit in the Syrian city of Raqa in July 2017 following an airstrike by forces in the US-led coalition opeating in Syria and Iraq 
Smoke billows from a target hit in the Syrian city of Raqa in July 2017 following an airstrike by forces in the US-led coalition opeating in Syria and Iraq  AFP/File
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Washington (AFP)

The United States military will continue its air campaign in Syria at least in the short term, the Pentagon said Thursday, after President Donald Trump declared victory over the Islamic State group.

Trump shocked the US establishment and international allies Wednesday when he announced that all US troops would be withdrawn from Syria.

He did not address the air campaign, in which the United States and partner nations including France and Britain have spent years pounding IS targets across the country.

Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich said the US would continue its air war while American soldiers were in Syria -- but she would not say if the campaign would continue afterward.

"As long are there are troops on the ground, the US will conduct air strikes in support of our forces," Rebarich told AFP.

"As for anything post-US troops on the ground, we will not speculate on future operations."

The air war has been the keystone of US operations in Syria, with warplanes and drones hammering IS targets since 2014.

According to the most recent official strike summary, published on Wednesday, the US-led coalition conducted 208 strikes in Syria last week.

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