(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) WASHINGTON, Jan 11 (KUNA) -- The US again calls on Russia to pressure the Assad regime to work seriously toward a political resolution to the conflict in Syria, a US official said on Thursday.
"A stable Syria absolutely requires the departure of President Assad and his regime," Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on US policy in Syria after the defeat of the so-called Islamic State.
The regime of Bassar Al-Assad has inflicted suffering and countless deaths on the Syrian people, including use of chemical weapons, he said.
"This regime is a magnet for terror," he added. "It is incapable of democratically leading the whole of Syria. We, our allies, have come to Russia with a path toward the Syrian political transition, toward a political solution, on many occasions." Despite the advances made in Syria against IS, "our job is not yet done," Satterfield testified. "We remain focused on the enduring defeat of IS and other terrorist organizations, countering Iranian influence and malign behaviors, preventing the use of chemical weapons, ensuring the safety of Syria's neighbors and, ultimately, resolving the Syrian conflict and humanitarian crisis through the de-escalation of violence and a political resolution." There must be a Syrian political transformation and resolution that is in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, he said.
Coalition-backed efforts have liberated more than 98 percent of the territory previously controlled by IS, Satterfield said, and more than 7.5 million people are free from IS domination in Iraq and Syria. "While Russia may deem and announce that the fight in Syria is over, the US and our coalition partners do not regard this as a finished effort," he said. The US is committed to the "total and enduring defeat" of IS, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria and the region, "ensuring that they cannot regenerate and return," he added.
The US has provided nearly USD 7.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the Syrian crisis, including about USD 1.5 billion over the last year, Satterfield said. This aid assists at least 4 million Syrians in need every month, he said.
In eastern Syria, with support from the Defense Department, the State Department and US Agency for International Development are leading recovery efforts designed to help consolidate military gains, provide life-saving assistance to conflict-afflicted civilians and stabilize liberated areas, Satterfield said.
"As this committee well knows, unlike in Iraq, we do not have a trusted government partner to work with," he said. "We are not working with, and we will not work with, the Assad regime." "Until there is a credible political process -- and by credible, we mean supported by the Syrian people -- that can lead to a government chosen by the Syrian people, without Assad at its helm at the end of the process, the US and our allies will not support large-scale efforts to reconstruct Syria," Satterfield said. (end) rm.sd
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