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    TILLERSON: We will maintain a military presence in Syria

     Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday indicated that America will maintain an indefinite military presence in Syria to fight terrorist groups, stand up to Iran’s growing influence and pave the way for an end to the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
    Tillerson’s remarks were the clearest enunciation yet by a Trump administration official of U.S. plans in Syria. They were especially striking in their open-ended commitment given that President Donald Trump campaigned on a desire to extricate the U.S. from messy wars in the Muslim world.
    Tillerson, speaking in California at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said the Trump administration won’t repeat the error former President Barack Obama made in withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, only to have to send them back later to help fight the Islamic State terrorist network.
    “We cannot make the same mistakes that were made in 2011,” Tillerson said to an audience that included former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz, noting that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups were able to “wreak havoc” after the U.S. withdrawal.
    Tillerson defended Trump’s policies in the Middle East, arguing that the still-young administration had delivered serious blows to the Islamic State, which has lost much of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria.

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