Mattis Says Sees Larger U.S. Civilian Presence in Syria

Mattis Says Sees Larger U.S. Civilian Presence in Syria

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis said a larger U.S. civilian presence including contractors and diplomats will be seen on the ground in Syria, as the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) militants nears its end and the focus turns toward rebuilding.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday (December 29), Mattis said the United States is shifting from an “offensive terrain seizing approach to a stabilizing” in Syria.

“Well, when you bring in more diplomats, they are working that initial restoration of services, they bring in the contractors, that sort of thing,” Mattis added, Reuters reported.

“There is international money that has got to be administered, so it actually does something, it doesn’t go into the wrong people’s pockets,” he said.

It was not clear how many U.S. diplomats would serve in Syria. The United States has suspended diplomatic relations with Syria due to the civil war.

Mattis did not say what legal basis will be used to send in U.S. diplomats to Syria, as the U.S.-led coalition is authorized under Article 51 of the United Nations charter only to battle ISIS militants.

The Assad regime controls about 55 percent of Syria after defeating rebels and ISIS militants with Russian support. Kurdish forces control 28 percent of the country.