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US raises $300 million from allies for Syria stabilisation

August 18, 2018 at 11:25 am

Syrian civilians wait to evacuate Arbin town of Eastern Ghouta to reach Hama on 28 March 2018 [Dia Al-Din Samout/Anadolu Agency]

The United States said on Friday it had secured $300 million from coalition partners to help stabilise parts of Syria retaken from Daesh, after President Donald Trump demanded that allies help carry the costs of the war.

The State Department said it would redirect $230 million in frozen funding for Syria to other unspecified foreign policy priorities, while emphasising that the move did not signal a retreat by Washington from the Syrian conflict.

Trump froze the $230 million in March, threatening to withdraw United States forces from Syria, subject to a review to reassess Washington’s role in the brutal seven-year-old conflict.

Whether or not the coalition money will convince him to stay is unclear.

The State Department named veteran US diplomat and former ambassador to Iraq, Jim Jeffrey, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s adviser for Syria, a role that will include overseeing the US role in talks aimed at a political transition in Syria.

Read: UK announces new aid package for Syria civilians

While Washington has long insisted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should go, the Trump administration appears to have accepted that Assad could remain until the end of his current seven-year presidential term in 2021.

Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition fighting against Daesh, will remain in his role as the US-coalition prepares to clean up the last remaining militants in an area around the town of Hajin in eastern Syria.

“We still have not launched the final phase to defeat the physical Caliphate. That is actually being prepared now and will come at a time of our choosing, but it’s coming,” McGurk, the US special presidential envoy overseeing the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, told reporters.

The US believes that Daesh has lost about 98 percent of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria