Tillerson sees long-term US presence in Syria

The United States must remain both diplomatically and militarily engaged in Syria to protect its own national securit...

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 10:08 AM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 10:08 AM

The United States must remain both diplomatically and militarily engaged in Syria to protect its own national security interests, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday.

"Continued strategic threats to the US from not just ISIS and al Qaeda persist, and this threat I am referring to principally is Iran," Tillerson said, adding, "In short, Syria remains a source of severe strategic threats."

Tillerson spoke at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University before an audience that included former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice.

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.

The continued presence of ISIS in Syria, despite the loss of a majority of its territory there, is necessary, Tillerson said, to avoid a repeat of the security vacuum that followed the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 under the Obama administration and the conditions that allowed ISIS and other terrorist groups to flourish in the region.

"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," he said.

"We understand that some Americans are skeptical of continued involvement in Syria," Tillerson said, but he argued such engagement is necessary to assure ISIS "do not present a threat to the homeland, and do not resurface in a new form."

Similarly, Iranian influence inside Syria through Tehran's use of proxy forces alongside its own military presence remains a reality that must be checked, Tillerson said.

"As a destabilized nation, and one bordering Israel, Syria presents an opportunity that Iran is all too eager to exploit," he said. "We must ensure that the resolution of this conflict does not put Iran closer to its goal of controlling the region."

And Assad's continued military operations against his own citizens -- including the use of chemical weapons, which provoked a military response by the United States last April -- have created a humanitarian crisis of millions of refugees and only add to the instability in Syria, the secretary said.

"The persistence of Assad in power will fuel additional conflict and increase the risk of additional chemical weapons use," Tillerson said.

He reiterated US support for the UN-led process that envisions a unified and stable Syrian state without Assad in power, and called on Russia to use its influence with Assad's regime to reach that end.

"The Assad regime clearly looks to Russia as a guarantor of its security," Tillerson said.

He added that Russia "has a meaningful role to play in persuading the Assad regime to engage constructively in the Geneva process."

Over the long term, the United States and its allies must participate in "stabilization initiatives" across Syria such as de-mining and establishing stable electricity, safe drinking water and other elements of a functioning state, which would be State Department and USAID initiatives backed up by the US military presence, Tillerson said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319381

Reported Deaths: 7354
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22264265
Hinds20634421
Harrison18381316
Rankin13862282
Jackson13677248
Madison10234224
Lee10050176
Jones8458167
Forrest7821153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6498149
Lamar633688
Lafayette6298120
Washington5418136
Bolivar4835133
Panola4663110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4597146
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc424973
Monroe4155135
Union415576
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock386087
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn324172
Scott319374
Yazoo314171
Itawamba305077
Adams304885
Copiah299766
Coahoma298383
Simpson298189
Tippah291568
Prentiss283561
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267083
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251951
Newton248563
Tishomingo231267
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187554
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135247
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite126142
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica108027
Jefferson Davis107833
Claiborne103030
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin85023
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547873

Reported Deaths: 11274
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809141565
Mobile41984826
Madison35629523
Tuscaloosa26147458
Shelby25580254
Montgomery25075611
Baldwin21805313
Lee16248175
Calhoun14710325
Morgan14618285
Etowah14160362
Marshall12446230
Houston10757288
Elmore10292212
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10155250
Cullman9928200
Lauderdale9591248
DeKalb8963189
Talladega8455184
Walker7330280
Autauga7229113
Blount6937139
Jackson6905113
Colbert6406139
Coffee5622126
Dale4929114
Russell454541
Chilton4470116
Franklin430783
Covington4267122
Tallapoosa4127154
Escambia401180
Chambers3723123
Dallas3606156
Clarke352861
Marion3237106
Pike313978
Lawrence3124100
Winston283272
Bibb267664
Geneva257081
Marengo250665
Pickens236662
Barbour234559
Hale226678
Butler223771
Fayette217762
Henry193743
Cherokee187245
Randolph186944
Monroe179141
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155157
Cleburne153144
Lamar146237
Lowndes142053
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113230
Coosa111429
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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