WASHINGTON — In a sharp reversal from the positions US President Donald Trump campaigned on, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that the United States will maintain an extended military presence in Syria to prevent the return of the so-called Islamic State (IS), deter Iran and to bolster a United Nations-backed political process that would eventually see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leave.
Tillerson's comments come as the Trump administration has been huddling with allies about how to handle Russia's desire to host a Syria national dialogue in Sochi later this month. Tillerson is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New York on Friday, a diplomatic source told Al-Monitor.
“We understand that some Americans are skeptical of continued involvement in Syria and question the benefits of maintaining a presence in such a troubled country,” Tillerson said today in a major speech on the way forward in Syria hosted by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “However, it is vital for the United States to remain engaged in Syria for several reasons.”
“The United States will continue to remain engaged,” Tillerson said, outlining five key US goals for Syria.
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So much for the non-interventionist Trump.
Wake me up after the first $500 billion mark has been reached in the Syria war.