by WorldTribune Staff, August 29, 2018
Iran has been “put on notice” that its “continued mischief” in the Mideast will not be tolerated by President Donald Trump, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Aug. 28.
Speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Mattis called Iran the “single biggest destabilizing element” in the Middle East.
“What are they doing in Syria in the first place?” said Mattis, before adding Iran was “propping up” Assad, who has “committed mayhem and murder on his own people.”
Mattis warned Iran that it will be “held to account for it” but did not go into detail about what that entailed.
The defense secretary added that the Trump administration is working with Russia, which may have the “traction” and “persuasiveness” to ask Iran to withdraw its forces from Syria.
A U.S. official said last week that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in principle during their July summit in Helsinki that Iran should exit Syria.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently made clear that Iran would withdraw its “military advisers” from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.
Mattis also clarified, “Our problem is not with Iran, it’s with the Iranian regime leadership, not the Iranian people. I just want to separate those two as well.”