Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday evening that the United States will not give any aid to Syria until all Iranian-backed troops are expelled from the region.
In a speech delivered to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), Pompeo said the United States is carrying out a multi-pronged approach to neutralizing the threat Iran poses to Israel and the world.
“If Syria doesn’t ensure the total withdraw of Iranian-backed troops it will not receive one single dollar from the United States for reconstruction,” he said. “Our goal is simple: to cut off the revenue to a regime that spreads terror and chaos to fund its nuclear programs, and to line its own pockets with money that should be given to the Iranian people.”
During the chaos in Syria as a result of its ongoing civil war, Iran and Russia have backed Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, who has used chemical weapons on his own people and committed other human rights atrocities. Ultimately, Iran and Russia’s interest in Syria is to get closer to Israel and open a second front along the Golan Heights, Pompeo said.
His remarks come just days after Russian leaders rejected Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the Golan Heights — a mountainous region of Israel that borders Syria and is of strategic military interest. Last month, a Russian intelligence plane was downed in Syria. Russian officials are blaming Israel for the incident.
“Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward,” he said. “It is democratic and prosperous. It desires peace and is a home to a free press and a thriving, free-market economy. Compare that to Iran whose corrupt leaders assault the human rights of their own people, advance terrorism, and undermine U.S. interests in every corner of the Middle East.”
“Rarely in world affairs is the contrast between two sides so stark,” he continued. “Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is standing where it should firmly be — on the side of Israel.”