Romney: Strategy Toward Syria Critical to U.S. National Security

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, today convened a hearing titled “The Path Forward: Key Findings From the Syria Study Group Report.” The hearing focused on the findings of the Syria Study Group’s report released today on assessments and recommendations for U.S. strategy in Syria. Senator Romney’s opening remarks can be found below.  
        
“As the report states, ‘optimal outcomes were left behind long ago.’ It’s never easy to devote time and resources to a task whose main goal is often to prevent worse things from happening. I happen to believe that this report comes at a very timely point in our nation’s history. According to press reports, ISIS is regrouping, that there are some 15,000 ISIS fighting individuals on the ground, and that there are some 70,000 in refugee camps that are ISIS supporters. Mr. Assad has repeated chemical attacks despite the fact that we once drew a red line. That red line seems to be more like a green light. Turkey is hostile to the intent towards the…Kurd-led Syrian defense forces which we back, and presents a real threat to them. Idlib is apparently a province that’s being held by various terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda. Iran has 2,500 troops which are located on the ground there. Russian mercenaries…did launch a surprise attack on U.S. troops there. So, there’s a great deal swirling around this part of the world.
 
“...the Administration has announced its withdrawal, and I think one of the questions is whether this is a political interest that’s being pursued or a national interest that’s being pursued. And particularly, the recommendations that are going to come forward from this group are of most interest to me and, I’m sure, other members of the committee and the Administration. Your report does include conclusive, thoughtful recommendations to address these challenges and how best to adjust our strategy toward Syria to minimize the threats in the future.”