Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that the first priority of U.S. policy in Syria is the destruction of ISIS before trying to dismantle Bashar al-Assad’s regime and stabilize the war-torn country.
During an interview on CBS “Face the Nation,” Tillerson told host John Dickerson that the primary goal remains defeating ISIS. “That by defeating ISIS and removing their caliphate from their control, we’ve now eliminated at least – or minimized a particular threat not just to the United States, but to the whole stability in the region,” he said.
Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil CEO, said that the U.S. can only focus on stabilizing Syria once the threat of ISIS “has been reduced or eliminated.”
When asked about possible Russian retaliation after last week’s U.S. military airstrikes, Tillerson said he is not worried. “I see no reason that there would be retaliation since the Russians were never targeted in this particular strike,” he said. “Russia was never part of the targeting.”
The Daily Caller reports:
At this time, the U.S. military has not changed its stance toward the Syrian regime, outside of the retaliatory strike in response al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Tillerson told Dickerson that the administration hopes to negotiate an end to the Syrian Civil War without having to resort to further military escalation