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As the Syrian tragedy lurches toward a bloody final showdown in Idlib province, the Trump administration is struggling to check Russia and the Syrian regime from an assault there that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns would be a "humanitarian catastrophe".At least the administration has stopped the dithering and indecision of the last 18 months and signaled that the U.S. has enduring interests in Syria, beyond killing Daesh (ISIS) terrorists – and that it isn't planning to withdraw its special operations forces from northeastern Syria anytime soon.U.S. goals in Syria have been sketched publicly by Pompeo and Mattis: withdrawal of all Iranian-commanded forces from the country, rather than just from a 80-kilometer buffer zone along the Israel border, as in the deal Russia arranged; and a political transition that can prevent Syria from becoming a terrorist base again and stabilize it enough that refugees can return to their homes.If the U.S. really means to be back in the Syria game, it must prevent the Idlib bloodbath – and then encourage this same process of coexistence across the country.
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