Mattis: No changes on Syria from Trump

Mattis: No changes on Syria from Trump
© Getty

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE on Tuesday said the U.S. military has not changed its stance on Russian forces in Syria since the Helsinki summit with President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“What we do with the Russian Federation, we deconflict our operations. We do not coordinate them, we deconflict them . . . to make certain along the deconfliction lines we are not creating hazardous conditions,” Mattis said at Stanford University's Hoover Institution in California, alongside Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBill Maher says he's 'glad' David Koch is dead Trump spurs new wave of economic angst by escalating China fight Trump on North Korean projectile launches: Kim 'likes testing missiles' MORE and their Australian counterparts.


Mattis added that the Defense Department will not be doing anything different until Pompeo and Trump “have further figured out at what point we’re going to start working alongside our allies with Russia in the future.”

“That has not happened yet and it would be premature for me to go into any more detail at this point.”

The United States and Russia back opposing sides in Syria’s more-than-seven-year-long civil war, but last week in Helsinki Trump and Putin outlined broad plans for increased cooperation between their two countries on international security matters.

The Russian Defense Ministry later said that it’s ready to step up cooperation with the U.S. military in Syria.

Current U.S. law prohibits the Pentagon from coordinating with the Russian military. U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel last week told reporters that Congress would have to make legislative changes before the U.S. military could fully work with Russian forces.

It's still unknown what verbal agreements were made between Trump and Putin, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who spoke alongside Mattis – said he has spoken with Trump about the meeting and “the president’s been clear about some of the things that were agreed to.”

“There were many things that came from what I view as an incredibly important meeting between President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE and President Putin,” said Pompeo, who on Wednesday will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Helsinki meeting, as well as the administration’s policies on North Korea and Iran.

“We’ll testify about a lot of things including the relationship between the United States and Russia.”