Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday the US will not withdraw its forces from Syria unless peace is fully achieved throughout the country.
“We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace, so you win the fight and then you win the peace,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
Asked whether there has been any progress in assembling some sort of ground force for Syria that would provide stability after the US withdraws, he noted that he would meet with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said the US is working with other countries in the region in this regard.
Describing the Syrian crisis as “the most complex security issue” in his four decades of government service, Mattis said they are battling Daesh while attempting to revive the Geneva peace talks to end the civil war.
In response to a question from an Anadolu Agency correspondent on whether the US and Turkey have a common road map for the Syrian city of Manbij, he said the process is continuing.
“Those negotiations are ongoing as we work with our NATO ally over an issue that we have differences of opinion on,” Mattis said. “They are still going on. I’m kept informed of how they are going, but I am not ready to talk about that.”