Alwaght- Donald Trump said on Friday American troops' mission in Syria is limited to destroying ISIS terrorist group, contradicting his own administration officials who seek to maintain an open-ended military presence in the West Asian country.
“We're there for one reason: to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS, and to go home,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House. “We’re not there for any other reason and we’ve largely accomplished our goal.”
While Trump did not hesitate to call the Syrian government “a humanitarian disgrace,” criticizing Russia and Iran for their involvement, his comments implied the US military also had no business in Syria beyond the 'ultimate' goal of defeating ISIS.
"What Russia and what Iran and what Syria have done recently is a humanitarian disgrace ... We're there for one reason. We're there to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS and go home ... And we've largely accomplished that goal"
Australian premier for his part said “Ultimately, there has to be a political settlement,” noting that Australian troops in the region have been focused on training the Iraqi military and not so much on Syria.
Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined defeating IS ‒ and Al-Qaeda ‒ as only one of the five goals the US was pursuing in Syria. The others? Curbing Iranian influence and eliminating weapons of mass destruction, ending the civil war and creating conditions for safe return of refugees, as well as ensuring a peaceful transfer to a “post-Assad leadership.”
In Tillerson’s vision, the majority of Syrian people will peacefully vote out President Bashar Assad in a free election. The Obama administration and its allies had repeatedly insisted that “Assad must go,” which the Trump administration has alternately agreed and disagreed with.
In December, a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged the presence of almost 1,800 US troops in Syria, and said they will remain there for “as long as we need to.”