US Military Continues Training Support for Syrian Security Forces

Marie Harrington
January 18, 2018

"We ask all stakeholders in Syria's future to do the same".

"We will never allow a terrorist army to form near our borders", Yıldırım said, echoing the Erdoğan administration's vocal reaction against the possible USA moves.

Tillerson said the administration also will maintain a small "conditions-based" military presence in Syria to track and kill the dwindling number of Islamic State militants.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has denied that the United States had any intention of building a Syria-Turkey border force, saying the issue has been "misportrayed and misdescribed".

USA forces in Syria have already faced direct threats from Syrian and Iranian-backed forces in the country, leading to the shoot-down of Iranian drones and a Syrian jet a year ago, as well as to tensions with Russian Federation.

Speaking at Stanford University after being introduced by former top diplomat Condoleezza Rice, Tillerson said the Trump administration was determined not to repeat President Barack Obama's "mistake" when he withdrew US troops from Iraq in 2011.

"A stable, unified, and independent Syria ultimately requires post-Assad leadership in order to be successful".

The YPG is in turn the lead component of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which was created in 2015 to fight the Islamic State and now controls northeast Syria.

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In ousting IS from its self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa, and other areas of northeastern Syria previous year, the United States worked with the Syrian Democratic Forces, a militia dominated by Kurdish fighters.

In deciding to keep troops in Syria, Tillerson insisted that Washington is not being dragged into the almost seven-year-long Syrian civil war as a combatant.

"Continued strategic threats to the U.S. from not just the Islamic State and Al Qaeda persist, and this threat I am referring to principally is Iran", Tillerson said on Wednesday, adding, "In short, Syria remains a source of severe strategic threats."Tillerson was speaking on the campus of Stanford University before an audience that included former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, CNN reported". If the Syrian President leaves his post as part of a peace process under the aegis of the United Nations, it will create the conditions for lasting peace, the US Secretary of State said.

"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.

USA troops completed a withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, eight years after they toppled Saddam Hussein's rule, only to return in much lower numbers in 2014 to fight the Islamic State.

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. ISIS presently has one foot in the grave and by maintaining an American military presence in Syria until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two".

Tillerson said free, transparent elections in which the Syrian diaspora participates "will result in the permanent departure of Assad and his family from power".

"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 US also would push for broader political changes in the Middle East country.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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