US president Donald Trump has delivered on a campaign pledge by instructing the US military to focus on defeating Islamic State rather than toppling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Irish Times reported.
He made his position clear last October when he spoke favourably of Assad, Russia and Iran because they are “killing Isis”, suggesting the US should join forces with those fighting the terror group. Islamic State is also known as Isis, or Daesh, It added.
Former US president Barack Obama called for Assad to stand down in August 2011, six months after unrest erupted in Syria, and remained committed to this demand until he left office, according to Irish Times.
Irish Times added, Trump’s instruction to the Pentagon was preceded by a statement made by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who broke with Obama administration policy by saying Assad’s future “will be decided by the Syrian people” rather than external powers.
This is the position of Russia and of Assad himself. Moscow has denied it will support Assad indefinitely, while he has said that once there is a political settlement involving transition from Baath party rule to a multi-party system and elections, he would stand down if this was the wish of the Syrian people, it indicated.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley reinforced Tillerson’s line when she said the US would no longer focus on “getting Assad out”, Irish Times explained.