Senior US official says US will stay to protect SDF in Syria

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg   Reuters  


ERBIL - David M. Satterfield, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs told US senators on Thursday that the US will not leave Syria. “We are not going to declare victory and go! That is not my opinion. That’s the president’s strategic judgment.”

“We’re going to stay for several reasons. Stabilization and assistance in the vital north and northeast, protection of our allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have fought so valiantly against ISIS in the northeast, try to work to help transform the political structures in that area to a model for the rest of Syria and capable of being credibly represented in a new Syrian state. But for other reasons as well, including countering Iran and its ability to enhance its presence in Syria,” he said.

The official added that although the US cooperation with ‘the Kurds’ lead to tensions with Turkey, the US is trying to support a multi-ethnic power structure in the north and northeast of Syria with the SDF.

“Part of that stabilization is the emergence of a different kind of local based political structure which cannot be labeled Kurdish in an ethno centric mix. We see recently how they transition and move beyond what they have been in the past and the associations many of them have had in the past, which Turkey finds so objectionable,” he said.

“Now, that participation of the peoples of the north and northeast of Syria, there is a big swatch of population of assets both hydro carbon and agricultural, and people. They need to be part of the future of Syria and they want to be part of the future of Syria,” he said.

The official added that the current political transition ‘mitigates the Turkish concerns about Kurds. We are very much focused on this,” he added.

Also the US special envoy in the anti-ISIS campaign Brett McGurk in a briefing last year concerning last years progress in war praised the sacrifices of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa and confirmed US troops will stay in Syria.

“As I write this letter, SDF units are engaged in operations to remove ISIS from the Euphrates River Valley, and we anticipate these operations will continue over the first quarter of 2018,” he said.

“The focus will then shift to stabilization, and the United States is prepared to remain in Syria until we are certain that ISIS is defeated, stabilization efforts can be sustained, and there is meaningful progress in the Geneva-based political process pursuant to UNSCR 2254, ultimately leading to constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections,” he added.