"Confused by Donald Trump’s policy on Syria? That just means you’ve been listening to what his administration has been saying in the last few days.
The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is to fly to Moscow on Tuesday, where the novice US diplomat is expected to discuss the fate of Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, the world is still trying to understand just what goal Trump’s fledgling administration is pursuing in Syria.
For years, Trump advocated against intervention in Syria’s war, except to attack the Islamic State militant group in a related but separate conflict. That policy seemed to end on Thursday, after the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April. Yet almost as soon as Trump ordered retaliatory strikes on a Syrian airbase from which the US said the regime had launched the chemical attack, his aides suggested that the one-off strike had satisfied US objectives.
Until they contradicted themselves again.
It may not be clear what the US policy toward Syria actually is, including to senior policymakers whose divergent and even contradictory statements have overlapped with one another."