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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

UK welcomes continued US military presence in Syria

Foreign minister Alistair Burt said the US staying in Syria was important for the reconstruction of the war-torn country

Alistair Burt said continued US presence was important for the reconstruction of Syria. Abdulmonam Eassa/ AFP Photo
Alistair Burt said continued US presence was important for the reconstruction of Syria. Abdulmonam Eassa/ AFP Photo

The UK has welcomed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech in which he laid out the path for a long-term US military presence in Syria.

Alistair Burt, the UK minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said the US staying in the war-torn country was important for Syria’s future reconstruction and reconciliation.

“The US is concerned whether here is any possibility of Daesh re-emerging,” Mr Burt told the BBC on Thursday. “We saw that happening in Iraq because after conflict comes to an end, you have to make sure that the conditions are right to ensure parties like Daesh are not reengaged, that ISIS and Al Qaeda do not re-emerge as well.”

Mr Burt said the UK would remain committed to Syria, although not with a military presence.

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“If Syria is to be stable in the future then we have to make sure that it is a state in which the Syrian people have a say in their future,” he said. “We have to make sure that the politics is inclusive and governance is right and we have to make sure that on the ground the conditions in which Daesh have emerged and conflict has emerged in the past aren’t there.”

Speaking at the Hoover Institution in California on Wednesday, Mr Tillerson said the US presence would be aimed at making sure ISIL does not re-emerge.

“Our military mission in Syria will remain conditions-based, and focused on ensuring ISIL cannot re-emerge” Mr Tillerson said. “We cannot repeat the mistake of 2011 [Iraq withdrawal].”

The US military presence will be in areas liberated from ISIL.

The US defence department admitted last month for the first time the presence of 2,000 US troops deployed in Syria, a number almost four times the size of the 503 troops that were provided for the last year.