According to Foreign Policy, two high-ranking representatives of the White House insist on expanding military operations in Syria, but without support of the head of the Pentagon.
The publication claims that the radicalized Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria with the main aim to confront Iran and its forces on the ground. Instead, Defense Secretary James Mattis, has personally shot down their proposals more than once, according to the sources familiar with the debate inside Trump’s administration.
The Defence Minister, as well as some of the moderate top White House officials and representatives of the military command believes that such a pretty risky move may lead to a dangerous confrontation with Iran, which would be disadvantageous for the U.S. They think it may be resulted in a blow at the U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Syria.
Mattis, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Brett McGurk, the U.S. diplomat and the representative of the US President in the coalition, are in favor of driving out ISIS militants from their main strongholds, including Raqqa.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Meanwhile, based on the recent events in southern Syria, Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey have some support in the White House. To be recalled is that the US military redeployed High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from Jordan to the At-Tanf base in southern Syria. The coalition also struck a third blow at Syrian pro-government forces in the At-Tanf area during the last month.