US Sending Mixed Signals on Military’s Role in Syria

Officials all agree they're staying, but can't explain why

US officials are increasingly public in their intentions to keep military forces inside Syria indefinitely. This is, however, raising questions that Trump Administration officials aren’t ready to answer, like why.

State Department special envoy James Jeffrey was the latest to take a crack at explaining US goals in Syria. As with previous answers, the claims are confusing, and contradict other official statements on the matter.

Jeffrey says US troops will stay in Syria because having US troops there has “certain implications for the rest of the situation,” and that the goal is enduring defeat of ISIS, and nothing else, saying it’s “not broader than that.”

According to John Bolton, however, it’s broader than that. Bolton didn’t even mention ISIS anymore, saying instead that the US troops in Syria are there to block the movement of Iran and Iranian allies.

Bolton agreed that US troops are staying in Syria indefinitely, but that they are holding out until Iran withdraws not only Iranian troops from Syria, but also “proxies,” which according to administration officials cover some 80% of Assad forces.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of