United States unwelcome to participate in Syria's rebuilding process: Foreign Ministry

Katrina Barker
January 18, 2018

He said President Donald Trump's administration was implementing a new strategy on Syria that would achieve "key end states" for the carnage engulfing the country - which has left a half million people dead - and would ultimately lead to a political resolution without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power.

"Calling for patience As a candidate, Donald Trump was critical of his predecessors" military interventions in the Middle East, but as USA president, he has had to commit to an extended presence in Afghanistan and, now, Syria.

Rather, he said, the USA military will provide training to local elements to help secure areas that were liberated from the Islamic State, with US assistance, over the past three years.

Tillerson illustrated how the USA would continue trying to isolate Assad's government even as the US objective is "stabilization". The Pentagon said in December that it had about 2,000 USA military personnel deployed in Syria.

The Secretary of State also signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader US strategy to prevent Daesh terror group's resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran's influence.

The U.S. -led worldwide coalition against Daesh said on Sunday that it would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the SDF/PKK - a group largely controlled and manned by the PYD/PKK terrorist organization.

Tillerson said the US recognizes Turkey's "humanitarian contributions and military sacrifices" in Syria defeating ISIL, adding that Washington needs Ankara's "close cooperation" in achieving a new future for Syria that ensures security for Syria's neighbors.

In ousting IS from its self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa, and other areas of northeastern Syria past year, the United States worked with the Syrian Democratic Forces, a militia dominated by Kurdish fighters. Tillerson promised help on the ground - clearing landmines and restoring utilities ravaged by almost seven years of war - and within the United Nations, where Washington would strive to secure a Syrian peace process as well as free elections.

The United States has led a coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq since 2014, and the Pentagon said last month there are about 2,000 USA troops in Syria.

Assad's departure "will create the conditions for a durable peace within Syria and security along the borders for Syria's neighbors", Tillerson added later during a question-and-answer session.

US troops completed a withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, eight years after they toppled Saddam Hussein's rule, only to return in much smaller numbers in 2014 to fight IS, which in 2014 seized large swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

"The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria, focused on ensuring that ISIS can not reemerge", he said.

He called for the same mistake to be made again in 2011 when "early withdrawal from Iraq allowed al-Qaeda to survive in this country and mutate, giving life to the Islamic State group".

Tillerson said free, transparent elections in which the Syrian diaspora participates "will result in the permanent departure of Assad and his family from power". "This process will take time, and we urge patience in the departure of Assad and the establishment of new leadership".

"Responsible change may not come as immediately as some hope for, but rather through an incremental process of constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections. But that change will come".

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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