Anti-ISIS nations say diplomacy is only path to solution in Syria

Anti-ISIS nations say diplomacy is only path to solution in Syria

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the conference of the anti-ISIS coalition Wednesday at the State Department in Washington. President Donald Trump also attended. (DoD photo)

WASHINGTON — Representatives from seven nations, including the United States, said Wednesday that “there is no military solution” to the upheaval in Syria.

The declaration, made following a Wednesday meeting in Washington, underscored the “concerted need for diplomacy and international politics will” to end the conflict and begin to return normalcy to that nation.

“We affirm in the strongest terms that those who seek to destabilize the region or seek a military solution will only succeed in increasing the risk of a dangerous escalation and wider conflagration in the region,” the representatives said. “We are determined to focus our efforts and move forward with a political solution consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Those signing the statement were among representatives of the 79-member U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS attending a meeting at the State Department. Those who signed represented Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We remain committed to working by, with and through our partners and allies to ensure the permanent and lasting defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.

President Donald Trump, who spoke the meeting, said the Pentagon will give him formal notice — as early as next week — that 100 percent of the territory once held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq has been retaken.

On Tuesday, Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that ISIS holds only 20 square miles of territory in Syria. In that patch are roughly 2,000 ISIS fighters he said — with another 30,000 or so scattered through Iraq and Syria.

Votel reiterated Pentagon concerns that a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, as advocated by Trump, would open the door for an ISIS resurgence within a year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the conference that the U.S. is not leaving the fight against ISIS or Syria.

“The recent suicide bombing in Manbij…shows that ISIS remains a dangerous threat in territory it does not control,” Pompeo said, according to news reports.

“That’s why President Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops will be withdrawing from Syria is not the end of America’s fight,” he said. “The fight is one that we will continue to wage alongside of you. The drawdown of troops is essentially a tactical change, it is not a change in mission. It does not change the structure, design or authorities on which the campaign has been based. It simply represents a new stage in an old fight.”

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