BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:40 P.M.) – The U.S. envoy to Syria James Jeffrey held a press conference on Friday in which he discussed a number of Syria-related topics, including the ongoing battle near the Idlib Governorate.
When asked about the ongoing situation in Idlib and what he would like to see, Jeffrey responded: “It goes up and down. The thing we were most worried about were two things. One is, a major offensive that would do three things simultaneously. Two things for sure, and a third thing likely. The first thing would be the use of chemical weapons, and thus we had to be very clear once again that we would respond forcefully.”
Jeffrey’s response about the chemical weapons indicated that the U.S. is positive that chemical weapons would be used, but he did not specify why it is “for sure”.
The U.S. envoy then stated that the operation would most likely result in a mass diaspora of people from the Idlib Governorate.
“Secondly, that a major campaign would generate huge international refugee flows out of the Idlib area, because there are about 3.5 million people there, most of whom are already IDPs from other areas, so they are living under very fragile conditions and they we think would leave very quickly. We’ve already seen about 400,000 of them displaced by just the bombing campaign. So that was the second thing we’re worried about.”
In his last point, Jeffrey said the impact of Assad securing another victory would further empower him and hurt the U.S.’ influence on the peace process. ”
“The third thing was the geostrategic impact of Assad getting another victory on the ground. We think that would simply encourage him to further reject the political process and further strive to achieve a military victory. WE think that a military victory for this awful criminal regime is a bad thing in and of itself. And as most of the other areas, you have either Turkish or American force and any effort on his part to achieve a military victory in those areas would be even more dangerous.”
The U.S. currently occupies several areas in northern Syria and the Tanf Zone in the southern region of the country.
The Syrian government has demanded that the U.S. troops withdraw from the country, along with the rest of the Coalition forces.