Tillerson: US Troops Staying In Syria To Counter Assad, Iran

"It's in the national interests of the United States to maintain the military and diplomatic presence in Syria so that it can help ending the conflict in the country", he said.

The United States has deployed around 2,000 ground troops to Syria and its warplanes patrol over the east of the country, hunting remnants of IS, which was largely routed from the country past year. He said the USA also would push for broader political changes in the Middle East country.

The expanded mission drew a rebuke from Kaine, who said: "To be clear, neither the 2001 or 2002 AUMFs provide authority to target Assad or Iranian proxies in Syria, and it is unacceptable for this action to be taken absent a vote and approval of Congress".

Russia, Syrian government's main worldwide ally, also expressed fears that the U.S.is "pursuing a policy to cut Syria into several pieces". Washington has 2,000 USA ground forces in the country.

"The top US diplomat said Washington would carry out "stabilization initiatives" such as clearing landmines and restoring basic utilities in areas no longer under Islamic State control, while making clear that "'stabilization' is not a synonym for open-ended nation-building or a synonym for reconstruction.

Tillerson went on to say: "Reducing and expelling malicious Iranian influence from Syria depends on a democratic Syria".

"We have ISIS [another acronym for Daesh] still attacking in parts of northwest Syria and along the Euphrates valley, so this is just more training and trying to block ISIS [Daesh] from their escape routes", said Tillerson.

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa after a Kurdish-led force expelled Islamic State group fighters
Large parts of Syria have been destroyed after years of conflict

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said the internal affairs of any country is an exclusive right of its people, adding that the USA official's remarks violated the global law.

Laying out the Trump administration's broad strategy for Syria, Mr Tillerson said a quick withdrawal from Syria would give the jihadist group space to regroup after years of defeat on the battlefield. "Russia therefore has a meaningful role to play in persuading the Assad regime to engage constructively in the Geneva process".

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

The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria said on Wednesday he had invited the Syrian government and opposition to a special meeting next week in Vienna.

"The Trump Administration lacks the authority to keep USA military forces in Syria after the defeat of ISIS", Cardin said. Russian Federation called the plans a plot to dismember Syria and place part of it under USA control, and Turkey described the force as a "terror army".

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.

  • Tracy Klein