Lavrov Says That US Has No Plans to Leave Syria


Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that US military is in Syria for the long haul, judging by their efforts on the eastern bank of Euphrates river.

“The US pledged that their only aim was to repel terrorists from Syria, to defeat the so-called ‘Islamic State,’ but, despite all their claims, despite President Trump’s claims, the US is actually positioning itself on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates and have no intention of leaving,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov stated that there are several nations whose only agenda is the disintegration of Syria and that the road to economic recovery will be a hard one unless all foreign troops leave the country. Russia has been actively supporting Bashir al-Assad’s regime by providing air cover, training, and weapons and often even infantry support in heavy fighting that has occurred in Syria in the last several years. Syria hosts the only major Russian naval base outside its territory and is seen by Kremlin as a key ally in allowing Russia power projecting capabilities in the Mediterranean.

Earlier this month President Trump announced that he is planning to withdraw all United States forces from Syria, a statement that seemed contradictory to what his closest advisors, including senior Pentagon and State Department officials, who all claimed that the US will keep a strong presence in the region.

Turning 180 degrees on a previous statement is nothing new for Mr. Trump, but this announcement confused even his allies in the Congress, which doesn’t share President’s views on the Middle East situation.

US military has been present in Syria since at least 2014, where it has been leading a coalition of nations in a fight against ISIS. Now that ISIS threat is mostly eliminated, US forces have been positioning themselves on the east bank of the Euphrates river in order to protect their Kurdish allies from attacks by regime forces and Iranian-backed militias.


USA Successful in Syria


Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes on Syria proved to be a success. But is it a carefully planned strategy behind it, or just an impulsive decision based on the happenings in the recent weeks. Can the United States prevent the Syrian government from using the chemical weapons to attack its people and destroy the Islamic State which holds a territory on the Syrian-Iraqi border?

Many people in Washington doubt it because President Donald Trump wants to withdraw around 2,000 US troops from the bases in Syria. The naysayers and doubters are wrong, and there is a way to eliminate the Islamic State, but some measures which are not so popular need to be taken – cooperation with Russia is necessary.

The airstrikes were successful, but Syria is looking for ways to import the chemical weapons and renew the chemical weapons program as we speak. This violates the Chemical Weapons Convention, but this also means that the government has small locations which house chemical weapons and which have escaped the detectors of the US military and its allies.

As for the Islamic State issues, the US special operation forces cooperate with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which claim the territory after it has been taken from the ISIS. However, they have been expecting from the US to help them defend such territories indefinitely, which is not realistic. The Kurds held Afrin in northwestern Syria, but losing this territory resulted in the freezing of the combat in the Islamic State and their last stronghold. This has complicated relations between the United States and the SDF and what made matters worse is Trump’s statement to withdraw American forces from the fight after the Islamic State territory is taken.

Trump has mainly focused on combating the Islamic State, but the recent airstrikes were intended to stop the Syrian government form using chemical weapons. Together with France, they have stopped the expansion of the Turkish military operation on Euphrates river, and this has reduced the gap between America and the SDF. Trumps administration also imposed sanctions on Russian entities because of their inaction and support of such system. The question which arises is this really the time for the US to withdraw from the region. If the further decisions are to be based on diplomacy and not military intervention, then the withdrawal is justified.

To solve the issue with chemical weapons, America will have to work together with International agencies continuously. The entire process will require Russian involvement. Furthermore, the United States will have to protect the spoils of war against the Islamic State but don’t forget that the US military will not be present on the ground to defend. They need to do so with the SDF, but they will have to explain their presence and come to an understanding with Moscow. If Russia refuses to allow the SDF actions, the Islamic State may attack its posts and spread once more. The good thing is that this can be prevented. America needs to offer Russia a guarantee of regime security, which is a fair deal. Also, the US troops cannot withdraw all at once. It is a gradual process, and some troops would stay in Syria until things quiet down and the Islamic State leadership defeated. To hunt down the remaining Islamic State leaders, the United States and Russia need to work together.

Trump intends to remove the troops, but the regime will still stand, and the chemical weapons facilities will not be removed. The Russian military will furthermore have a big influence in the country, so what is the next step for the US? They need to continue their talks with Moscow and agree upon particular interests of the United States in Syrian civil war.