Tillerson on Syria: The first priority is the defeat of ISIS

Asked about the idea of further American intervention in Syria as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad continues to act in ways the Trump administration has deemed “morally reprehensible,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson that, “we believe that the first priority is the defeat of ISIS.”  During the interview for Sunday’s broadcast Tillerson emphasized the importance of eliminating the terrorist organization before dealing with the Assad regime.

“By defeating ISIS and removing their caliphate from their control, we’ve now eliminated at least or minimized a particular threat not just to the United States, but to the whole stability in the region.” The Secretary said.  “Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria.”

Tillerson went on to say that the administration remains hopeful of a solution to ending the civil war within Syria. Part of that solution, he said, includes bringing all the parties to the table to begin the process of political discussions.

“Clearly, that requires the participation of the regime with the support of their allies,” Tillerson said and added, “and we’re hopeful that Russia will choose to play a constructive role in supporting ceasefires through their own Astana talks, but also, ultimately, through Geneva.”

According to Tillerson, if they are able to achieve ceasefire zones in Syria “we will have the conditions to begin a useful political process.”

For more of our interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, tune in to “Face the Nation”. Check your local listings for times.