SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) The US envoy for the coalition to counter ISIL says the United States and its allies ultimately seek a “political outcome” in Syria which would not include President Bashar al-Assad.
Gen. John Allen spoke to Asharq al-Awsat daily on Saturday about the US-led coalition’s strategy in Iraq and Syria, and their plans to train and equip the “moderate” Syrian militants.
“The outcome that we seek in Syria is akin to the ISIS (ISIL) strategy that fits into a much larger regional strategy and that outcome is a political outcome that does not include Assad,” Allen said.
“We want to make clear that we seek a political outcome in Syria without Assad being the ultimate outcome,” the general emphasized.
Gen. Allen said the US and its allies do not intend to “liberate Damascus” through military force, but will make sure that anti-Assad militants are the prominent military and political power in Syria, contributing to “the political outcome that we seek.”
“We have to create so much credibility within the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level . . . that they earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution,” he said.
Gen. Allen said it would take about a year to “physically” push ISIL out of Iraq and “some period of time beyond that in Syria” but ultimately it would take much longer to wipe out the “brand and idea” behind ISIL.
“There are [also] issues of illicit finance that create the opportunities for organizations like ISIS; there is the foreign fighter flow which can be a challenge for many years after an organization like ISIS has ceased to exist as a coherent entity,” he said.
When asked about the role of Iran in battling ISIL extremism, the general said, “we haven’t invited Iran into the coalition but we have welcomed Iran’s constructive role in Iraq.”
“As we continue to move forward we are going to continue to listen very carefully to the things they [Iran] have to say and we will see where that goes,” he noted.
The Pentagon launched airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in August. A US-led coalition also began its military campaign against the group in Syria last month.
The US also plans to train and arm 5,000 “moderate” militants a year in Syria.
The ISIL terrorists currently control large swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have carried out heinous atrocities in both countries, including mass executions and beheadings of people.