Washington: The United States will refuse any additional reconstruction assistance to war-torn Syria so long as Iranian troops are present in the country, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.
Pompeo vowed to press forward with President Donald Trump’s push to isolate Iran, boasting of imposing “some of the harshest sanctions in history.”
“The onus for expelling Iran from the country falls on the Syrian government, which bears responsibility for its presence there,” Pompeo said.
“If Syria doesn’t ensure the total withdrawal of Iranian-backed troops, it will not receive one single dollar from the United States for reconstruction,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s remarks come as the Trump administration shifts its reasoning for US involvement in Syria’s brutal civil war, which a war monitor says has killed close to 365,000 people since 2011.
The United States has some 2,000 troops in Syria, mainly training and advising rebels, after former president Barack Obama authorized the mission to defeat Daesh.
Pompeo said that fighting Daesh “continues to be a top priority” but listed rolling back Iran as another.
National security adviser, John Bolton, said last month that US troops would stay “as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders.”
Iran and Russia are the primary supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his bloody campaign against rebels and Daesh.
Pompeo did not make similar demands for a withdrawal by Russia, which has long considered Syria a major ally.