US Set to Counter Tehran’s Role in Syria

US Set to Counter Tehran’s Role in Syria
US Set to Counter Tehran’s Role in Syria

The United States plans to use aggressive sanctions to diminish Iran's influence in Syria and remove Iranian-backed troops from the Arab country, Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield said in a testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

When asked how the United States will remove Iranian troops from Syria, Satterfield said, "It's a combination of measures. First and foremost it is aggressive sanctioning and measures undertaken by the US and our partners to deny the physical tools, the ability to move assets and the ability to finance Iran's activities," Sputnik reported.

The US will remain present in Syria after the military conflict ends to ensure stability in the region and assist its allies, he said.

"We are going to stay for several reasons: stabilization and assistance in the vital north and northeast; [and] protection of our allies the Syrian Democratic Forces who have fought so valiantly against [the self-styled Islamic State terror group] in the northeast."

Satterfield explained that working to help transform political structures to produce a model for the rest of Syria as well as countering Iran's efforts to enhance its presence in the region are some of the other reasons for the US decision to remain on the ground in Syria.

  Prospect of Never-Ending War

Responding to a question of how to avoid the prospect of a "never-ending war", Satterfield said the conditions for recalling US troops will be determined on the set of conditions and the broader assessment of the situation in Syria.

There are no "hard dates" set for when US troops may return back to the United States, Satterfield added.

Iran, one of the state-guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire along with Russia and Turkey, says it has sent military advisors to Syria to help the government's fight against terrorism, however, denied allegations of plans to set a military base in the country.

According to Satterfield, Washington and its allies will not help the Syrian government with reconstruction if President Bashar Assad is in power.

"The international community's committed itself not to provide that reconstruction assistance until those goals— constitutional reform, UN-supervised elections—are realized."

He also said that the US will not support a Syrian peace conference in the Russian resort city of Sochi if the participants seek to create a separate track to the United Nations' Geneva peace process.

"Our position with respect to Russia is we cannot and will not legitimize a Russian alternate political process which is independent of and not supported and endorsed by the [UN] secretary-general," Satterfield said when asked about the upcoming talks in Sochi.

Satterfield emphasized that neither the UN chief nor the United States would accept a peace process "like Astana" that creates a second track that is "nominally part of Geneva but in practice under Russian control and direction and only informing Geneva and the UN as outcomes are derived."


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