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Trump comes with new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

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An NBC report suggested US President Trump is expected to introduce a strategy which will include imposing economic sanction on Iran, its allies and proxies as well as stopping aid to areas in Syria with Iranian or Russian presence; US official adds Syrian President Assad will remain in power according to the plan.

The US administration has decided to lead a new strategic plan, which focuses on driving the Iranian forces out of the embattled Syria, while using economic pressure on the Islamic republic and its allies.

According to the report, the plan will entail the investment of diplomatic efforts as well as imposing sanctions on Iranian and Russian companies that are involved in rehabilitating the war-torn country.

In addition, the US will prevent reconstruction aid from entering areas in Syria with Iranian and Russian presence.

However, US President Donald Trump's strategy will not involve direct contact of the American army with Iranian troops or the Islamic Republic's proxies, since that would violate the American authorization for applying military force in Syria, according to the five US officials involved in the plan.

Nevertheless, the US army is allowed to conduct self-defense actions, striking Iranian troops if it recognizes a threat.

"If the new strategy means opening the door to using force against Iran or Iranian military forces in Syria there needs to be a new Authorization for Use of Military Force," said Professor Oona Hathaway of Yale Law School. "Targeting Iran clearly falls outside the scope of the current AUMF which only includes groups with ties to 9/11. Iran doesn't meet that test. It would be amazing if [the Trump administration tries] to make the claim this falls under the current AUMF. That would be stretching this AUMF way past its breaking point."

A defense official said under the new plan the military would continue to talk about the mission in Syria as counter-ISIS, downplaying the fight against Iran, while the White House and State Department would increase their focus on countering Iran by squeezing them economically and diplomatically.

An administration official said that since last year Trump's Syria strategy has pursued four goals — defeating ISIS, deterring Assad's use of chemical weapons, creating a political transition in Damascus, and curbing "Iranian malign influence in Syria so that it cannot threaten the region, to include ensuring the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria."

"The United States will continue to seek to hold Assad accountable for his crimes," the official said. "Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, the administration will soon submit to Congress a strategy for Syria that reflects the president's key priorities."

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