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Pompeo says Iran must leave Syria

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that US forces will work with allies to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria.

In a speech at the American University in Cairo outlining the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, Pompeo said US forces will be returning from Syria but the US mission hasn’t changed. “We remain committed to the complete dismantling of the ISIS threat and the ongoing fight against radical Islamist terror. We are looking to our partners to do more going forward,” he said.

Pompeo said there would be no US money for reconstruction in areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its proxies had left. “We will not ease our campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world,” the Secretary of State said. A reported draft paper by National Security Adviser John Bolton on US plans for withdrawing from Syria includes leaving troops in place at the al-Tanf military base near the Iraqi and Jordanian border.

Pompeo said that reinstated US sanctions against Iran were “the strongest in history and will keep getting tougher,” and that “private companies in France, Germany, Britain and elsewhere have calculated that enriching themselves through work with the regime is bad for business”.

He also criticised former President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy, saying he had made “dire misjudgements” and that the US was a “force for good” in the region.

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: “Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression & resentment follow.”

Pompeo is also due to visit Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait during his tour of the region.