Rogers, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” that having the Kurds as allies and retrieving intelligence from them enabled the U.S. to successfully carry out this mission.
“There’s no way we could have done this,” Rogers said. “Remember those Kurdish forces were pushing back on ISIS.”
“All of that, Trump should understand how impactful that was,” he added. “That was a change in operating in Syria and it did make a significant difference to push back and eliminate their land holding.”
The Michigan Republican emphasized that Kurdish forces most likely provided intelligence leading to al-Baghdadi’s death.
“You can’t do it without those allies of which candidly we just walked away from,” he said.
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper agreed that the Kurdish forces most likely played a vital role in the mission.
“I’m quite confident that our being on the ground and sharing tactical intelligence, ground-level intelligence with the Kurds, I’m quite sure had a lot to do with the success of this mission,” he said.
President Trump announced the removal of U.S. troops from Syria earlier this month, after which Turkey launched an offensive against the U.S. Kurdish allies, who Turkey views as terrorists. Several bipartisan lawmakers condemned the announcement, worrying that the Kurds would view the removal as a “betrayal.”
The U.S. military utilized the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurds, to complete the mission of killing al-Baghdadi.