In a complex part of the world, the U.S. strategy in Syria is simple to state: the enduring defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the deterrence of the use of chemical weapons and countering Iran’s malign influence in the region.
Robert S. Karem, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, detailed the way forward in Syria for the House Armed Services Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee today.
“The United States also seeks a peaceful resolution to the multifaceted conflict in Syria in a manner that protects U.S. interests, preserves a favorable regional balance of power, protects our allies and partners and alleviates suffering,” Karem told the panel.
Limited DoD Role
The Defense Department’s role in Syria is limited, with a small number of American service members in the country working by, with and through local forces. Those forces have driven ISIS from stronghold after stronghold, but that is only one part of the complex situation in the nation, Karem said.
“While we are not intervening in the Syrian civil war, because our combat operations target ISIS, this underlying conflict inevitably affects our efforts,” he added.
The Syrian regime of Bashar Assad has been propped up by Russian and Iranian intervention, and has taken swaths of rebel-held territory back. This endangers international efforts to…