Defense Secretary Jim Mattis just made it very clear that the U.S. is NOT going to focus on the civil war in Syria but will continue to focus on defeating ISIS…
Mattis spoke before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and would not discuss the U.S. military strategy process.
He did talk about the importance of defeating ISIS and protecting civilians in Syria:
“Both the last administration and this one made very clear that our role in Syria is the defeat of ISIS,” Mattis said. “We are not going to engage in the civil war itself. Now you can look back to a year ago when we did fire missiles into Syria unrelated to ISIS and that was of course the use of chemical weapons. And some things are simply inexcusable, beyond the pale, and in the worst interest of not just the chemical weapons convention, but of civilization itself.”
“Our strategy remains the same as a year ago. It is to drive this to a UN brokered peace, but at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it”
Mattis then took a shot at the Obama administration for, as it attempted to remove chemical weapons from Syria, enlisting help from the Russians, who Mattis said are now “complicit” in helping the Assad regime retain the weapons.
“The only reason Assad is still in power is because of the Russians regrettable vetos in the [United Nations] and the Russian and Iranian military. So how do we deal with this very complex situation?” Mattis said. “First of all, we are committed to ending that war through the Geneva process through the UN orchestrated effort. It has been unfulfilled because again Russia has continually blocked the effort.”