U.S. military policy in Syria unchanged, says defense secretary

Mark Ross
By Mark Ross
April 11, 2017Newsshare

The U.S.’s military policy in Syria had not changed says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It is still focused on defeating ISIS terrorists.

His comments come after the United States launched missile strikes at a Syrian airfield.

The strikes were in response to the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

“The goal right now in Syria and the military campaign is focused on accomplishing that is breaking ISIS, destroying ISIS in Syria. This was a separate issue that arose in the midst of that campaign; the use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons. And we addressed that militarily. But the rest of the campaign stays on track exactly as it was before Assad’s violation,” said Mattis.

Assad is believed to have used chemical gases on a rebel-held town, killing dozens of civilians.

Mattis said he personally reviewed the intelligence and “there is no doubt the Syrian regime is responsible” for the attack.

“This military action demonstrates the United States will not passively stand by while Assad blithely ignores international law and employs chemical weapons had declared destroyed,” said the defense secretary.

Mattis said the U.S. government went through careful deliberation in deciding the best course of action in response to the attack. The National Security Council led the discussions and consulted allies as well.

“The National Security Council considered the near century-old international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons; the Syrian regime’s repeated violations of that international law; and the inexplicably ruthless murderous the regime had committed. We determined that a measured military response could best deter the regime from doing this again,” he said.

The council examined how to best avoid civilian casualties and also took measures to ensure that no Russians present at the Syrian airfield were injured. Mattis said the strikes were successful on both regards.

Moving forward, the U.S. military goal in Syria remains the same as before.

“Our military policy in Syria has not changed. Our priority remains the defeat of ISIS (Islamic State). ISIS represents a clear and present danger; an immediate threat to Europe, and ultimately a threat to the United States homeland,” said Mattis.

 

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