Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said at a press conference Tuesday that the U.S. military is not focused on regime change in Syria.
Mattis said the goal of the military campaign in Syria is “breaking ISIS.” He described the airstrikes last week as “a separate issue that arose in the midst of that campaign,” adding, “the rest of the campaign stays on track exactly as it was before Assad’s violation.”
The secretary of defense said that it was not a “not a harbinger of change in our military campaign,” and that the U.S. had to make a “very, very clear statement” that “chemical weapons not be used.”
Other Trump administration officials have seemed to imply they support regime change but have stopped short of endorsing it. On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he “can’t imagine a stable and peaceful Syria where Bashar al-Assad is in power.”
In addition, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that it is clear “to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end,” and UN envoy Nikki Haley said Sunday, “there’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime.”