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Tillerson says US troops to stay in Syria; US huddles with allies over Sochi

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US military will stay in Syria to prevent the return of the Islamic State, deter Iran and bolster post-war diplomatic efforts.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes part in a news conference with Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (not shown) on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Blair Gable - RC1F3121B170

WASHINGTON — In a sharp reversal from the positions US President Donald Trump campaigned on, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that the United States will maintain an extended military presence in Syria to prevent the return of the so-called Islamic State (IS), deter Iran and to bolster a United Nations-backed political process that would eventually see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leave.

Tillerson's comments come as the Trump administration has been huddling with allies about how to handle Russia's desire to host a Syria national dialogue in Sochi later this month. Tillerson is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New York on Friday, a diplomatic source told Al-Monitor.

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