January 11, 2018

Corker Statement at Hearing on U.S. Policy in Syria Post ISIS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement at a hearing on U.S. policy in Syria after the collapse of ISIS. The committee heard testimony from Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield.

“We thank our distinguished witness for being with us today. We regret the Defense Department was unable to send a witness.

“This is the committee’s second hearing of this Congress on the Syrian conflict, but it’s an issue that has been raised during many of our other meetings.

“To date, more than 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. More than 12 million people – roughly half of all Syrians – are displaced, and the Assad regime bears overwhelming responsibility for this destruction and the extremism it has spawned.

“However, none of this would have been possible without the support of Iran and Russia, both of which intervened on Assad’s behalf to extend influence in the region and to counter the U.S. and its partners.

“With the support of the U.S. and coalition partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces succeeded in sweeping ISIS out of the capital of Raqqa in October.

“Of course, despite losing much of its territory in Syria and Iraq, ISIS remains a major threat. And there is also the ongoing danger posed by al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliates, which maintain significant influence in opposition-controlled areas.

“So, it’s worth highlighting two recent developments:

“First, the U.S., Russia, and Jordan signed a Memorandum of Principles on November 8th maintaining the administrative arrangements in opposition-held areas in southwest Syria. Yet Iran and its proxies have deepened their foothold in southern Syria, potentially exacerbating the conflict’s sectarian nature and risking further instability by threatening our ally Israel.

“Second, for the past two weeks, the Assad regime has pummeled Idlib and the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, which are in the so-called ‘de-escalation’ zones.  These attacks have killed at least dozens of civilians and displaced tens of thousands so far.

“I hope Ambassador Satterfield will provide details of what the U.S. is doing to counter Iran’s activities in southern Syria and assess the current prospects for resolving the Syrian civil war diplomatically.”

Click here for complete testimony and video footage of the hearing.