The Trump administration has opened a new chapter in American involvement in Syria, vowing to remain until the civil war’s conclusion in a bid to halt Iran’s expansion across the Middle East.
The vision articulated last week by senior U.S. officials marks a dramatic reversal six months after President Donald Trump said he would pull American troops out of Syria and end U.S. involvement in a conflict that has killed at least half a million people and confounded two administrations.
James Jeffrey, the State Department’s special representative for Syria, said the United States would maintain a presence in the country, possibly including an extended military mission, until Iran withdraws the soldiers and militia forces it commands. U.S. officials expect that possible outcome only after world powers broker a deal ending the war.
“The president wants us in Syria until that and the other conditions are met,” Jeffrey told reporters Thursday, saying the U.S. withdrawal was also linked to achieving a lasting defeat of Islamic State militants.