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Tillerson: US troops staying put in Syria to counter Assad, Iran

19 January 2018, 01:52 | Katrina Lee

Image for representational purpose only

Image for representational purpose only

US President Donald Trump does not have the authority to keep military forces in Syria after Daesh is defeated, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin said in a statement on Thursday in reaction to a speech given by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The secretary of state said the U.S.

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".

Targeted by an American-led coalition, as well as local militias, Islamic State has lost most of the territory it seized in Syria and Iraq in 2014, but it remains a lethal threat. "But that change will come".

"We will continue working with allies such as Turkey".

"It is a great tool when it's used well", Tillerson said.

Tillerson said his country called on all nations to exercise discipline in economically pressuring Assad and rebuilding Syria after a political transition.

"The priority right now in Syria is to stop people being killed", he said, adding they are still being killed by the thousands. "But it is essential".

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Also in 2017 under the Trump presidency the number of civilians killed in bombings by the USA -led coalition in Syria and Iraq more than doubled compared to the previous year, with more than 8,050 deaths recorded in Syria and more than 3,700 in Iraq.

The Syrian government does not need one dollar from the United States for reconstruction because this dollar is stained with the blood of Syrians, the source said, adding that "the U.S. administration only creates destruction and suffering".

Backed by Russian Federation and Iran, Assad has reasserted control over much of Syria.

De Mistura announced earlier Wednesday that the United Nations had invited the Syrian government and opposition to a new round of peace talks in Vienna next week.

Tillerson praised Turkey's role in taking on Islamic State. The U.S. has at least 2,000 troops in Syria, according to figures the Pentagon released in December.

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

The new army will be formed from the Kurdish forces which control the northern Syrian areas, a move considered by experts and governments as a USA plan to fragment Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has complained about inconsistent statements from the United States about the creation of a border security force in northern Syria, saying Washington has to eliminate the confusion and stand by Turkey.

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