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Sunday, July 22, 2018

KABUL—The U.S. general overseeing the fight against Islamic State expressed firm reservations about President Donald Trump’s hopes of working more closely with Russia in Syria, where Moscow has played a central role in thwarting Washington’s attempts to force President Bashar al-Assad from power.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal and ABC News while en route to Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Votel said Russia’s actions in Syria gave him “pause” about building stronger military ties with Moscow.

“I’ve watched some of the things that Russia has done, it does give me some pause,” said Gen. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the fight against Islamic State and the war in Afghanistan.

“They have supported a regime that has pretty brutally attacked their people,“ Gen. Votel said Saturday. ”They’ve actively worked to make sure that the Syrian regime wasn’t held to full accountability for their use of chemicals.”

“These are not things that give me great confidence that just by stepping over into the next level of coordination that things are going to be fine. I don’t,” Gen Votel continued. “It’s Russia. Let’s not forget that it’s Russia.”

Gen. Votel’s comments were a reflection of simmering concerns among U.S. military officials about Mr. Trump’s evolving efforts to work more closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Syria. Gen. Votel joined a growing number of U.S. officials who have expressed reservations about cooperation with Russia.
Gen. Votel questioned any moves to deepen military ties in Syria, where Russian fighters have staged attacks on U.S. soldiers and carried out a punishing airstrike campaign that has killed countless civilians.

Russian military support has been vital to propping up Mr. Assad and in thwarting U.S. efforts to force the Syrian leader from power. But Mr. Trump hopes to work more closely with Mr. Putin as he seeks to pull all American troops out of Syria.

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Friday, July 20, 2018