President Donald Trump appeared to contradict his own State Department during a press conference on Friday by saying that the US is in Syria to defeat ISIS and then leave.
“We’re there for one reason: to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS and to go home,” Trump said during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “We’re not there for any other reason.”
In January, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined five goals for the US in Syria – to defeat ISIS and al-Qaida, resolve the conflict between the Syrian regime and people, to curb Iranian influence, to create conditions so that refugees can safely return, and to create a Syria free of weapons of mass destruction.
Tillerson also said that the US seeks to resolve the conflict between the Syrian regime and people through UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which works towards a free Syrian election that Washington believes will peacefully get rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But even if the situation gets to the point where a free and fair election is held, it’s not a guarantee that Assad will be voted out.
The Trump administration also decided this week that it could continue to maintain US troops in Syria indefinitely, even in areas where ISIS fighters have been cleared, without new Congressional authorization.