BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:20 A.M.) – The ex-US special envoy on Syria, James Jeffrey, acknowledged that the goal of the US military presence in Syria is not limited to fighting ISIS, but rather to prevent the country’s government from controlling all of its territory.
Jeffrey, who left his post last month, admitted, in an interview published Sunday by the Times of Israel newspaper, the inability of the outgoing US administration to achieve three main goals in Syria, which are to ensure the withdrawal of all Iranian forces from the country, defeat ISIS completely. and finding a political solution to the conflict, which is entering its tenth year.
According to Jeffrey, what the US has managed to accomplish is prevent the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from retaking the entire country and forcing a stalemate on the ground.
Commenting on his previous statements about his team concealing the true level of the US military presence in Syria from the White House, Jeffrey stressed that he had never misled Trump in this regard.
The veteran diplomat said that the US forces and the international coalition led by them in Syria “are not only fighting ISIS but also preventing Assad from gaining ground,” adding that Turkish forces do the same in northern Syria while “the Israeli air force dominates the sky.”
The envoy referred to a “broad coalition” backed by the United Nations and the European Union against the Syrian government, saying that Russia and Israel “inherited a failed state in a quagmire” and in order to break out of this impasse, they would be forced to negotiate and make concessions.
He continued that if the United States fails to reach a compromise solution that includes Iran’s withdrawal from Syria, then “an interim strategy must be put in place to prevent them from winning.”
Jeffrey defended the Israeli raids on Syria, saying that the only way to stop these operations is the withdrawal of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from Syria, considering this a request not for discussion.
Jeffrey stressed that the alleged Israeli raids on Iraq had caused the concern of some military leaders in the United States, but the Trump administration ultimately concluded that concerns about the extent of the impact of these attacks on the war against ISIS are exaggerated.
He explained, “Multiple operations were carried out in Syria and Iraq against Iranian and Syrian forces, and this did not affect our campaign against ISIS.”
In response to a question about the extent of Israel’s contribution in the war against ISIS, Jeffrey said: “Israel played a huge role, but most of the information about it is classified.”