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US Still Intends to Withdraw from Syria Following Strikes

Analysts weigh in on risks and highlights

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16 Apr 2018 (All day)
US Still Intends to Withdraw from Syria Following Strikes
Following missile strikes on chemical weapons facilities in Syria over the weekend by the US, UK and France, a statement was issued by the White House Sunday evening declaring that the policy of bringing US forces currently deployed in Syria home “as quickly as possible” hasn’t changed. "We are determined to completely crush [the Islamic State terror militia] and create the conditions that will prevent its return," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "In addition we expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility both militarily and financially for securing the region."

Elsewhere however, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington has three objectives in Syria including ensuring that chemical weapons would not be used in a way that would be detrimental to US national interests, defeating IS and keeping an eye on Iran. “We're not going to leave until we know we've accomplished those things," she said.

US President Donald Trump told Congress on Friday evening that he had ordered the missile strikes on the Assad regime to "promote the stability of the region, to deter the use and proliferation of chemical weapons, and to avert a worsening of the region's current humanitarian catastrophe. “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States.”

His statement drew strong support from Congressional Republicans, cautious support from some Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and strong condemnation, including charges that the strikes were a violation of international law, from some Democrats.

Elsewhere, a summit of the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia issued a statement on Sunday calling for an international investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria while also condemning the interference of Iran in the internal affairs of Arab countries. Saudi Arabia itself has issued strong statements in support of the Western military strikes on the Assad regime.

In related news, the US has signaled its intent to impose new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its support of the Assad regime, specifically targeting Russian entities acting to support Assad’s military use of chemical weapons.

On Saturday, the Pentagon issued a statement flatly denying claims by Russia and the Assad regime that they had shot down incoming missiles fired at chemical weapons sites by warships and aircraft of the US, UK and France. The statement said 105 missiles had been fired without a single one being intercepted, adding that the Russian air-defense assets in Syria had not even attempted to intercept any incoming missiles, while the Syrian air-defense system fired 40 interceptor missiles after the last allied missile had already hit its target.

Here is a video of a recent panel discussion on US relations with Iran and its impact on the Syrian theater


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