Tillerson signals deeper United States military commitment in Syria

Tillerson signals deeper United States military commitment in Syria

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a speech at Stanford University, called for "patience" on Assad's departure - the clearest indication yet of an acknowledgment that Russian Federation and Iran have bolstered Assad and that he is unlikely to leave power immediately.

He said the Trump administration's policy differs from the previous administration in that Tillerson is advocating staying in Syria for a very long time.

"Syria remains a source of severe strategic problems and a major challenge for our diplomacy", Mr Tillerson said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled for an open-ended U.S. military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy.

"The American military presence on Syrian land is illegitimate and represents a blatant breach of worldwide law and an aggression against national sovereignty", the statement said.

The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU.

However, the USA diplomatic chief noted that the radical group has not been completely defeated, and "the United States will continue to remain engaged as a means to protect our own national security interest". A USA disengagement would also provide Iran with an opportunity to reinforce its position in Syria, he warned.

The U.S.'s ultimate objectives in Syria include ensuring ISIS is fully defeated, "post-Assad leadership" and preventing Iran from bolstering its position.

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Troops backing Assad recently have said they want the U.S. presence in Syria to end, according to Syria's state-run news agency.

Tillerson said the main goals of US stabilization efforts in Syria are to create the conditions for Syrian refugees to return to the country, to curb Iranian influence in the region and to pave the way for United Nations -supervised elections aimed at securing new leadership in Damascus.

"We can not make the same mistakes that were made in 2011, when a premature departure from Iraq allowed Al-Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually morph into ISIS", he said.

The Wilson Center's Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert and a former adviser to a number of secretaries of state, told VOA he sees a number of similarities between the policy outlined by Tillerson and Obama administration policy on Syria.

Tillerson pushed for free, transparent elections, believing them to be an end to the Assad regime.

The Unites States is taking Turkey's concerns regarding Syria "seriously", the Secretary of State said.

"Responsible change may not come as immediately as some hope for, but rather through an incremental process of constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections". He said the USA also would push for broader political changes in the Middle East country.

"As a destabilized nation and one bordering Israel, Syria presents an opportunity that Iran is all too eager to exploit", Tillerson said.

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