WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - The United States is not deepening its role in Syria’s civil war but will act defensively when needed, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Thursday, after strikes against advancing militia backed by Syria’s government.
“No. We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war. But we will defend our troops. And that is a coalition element made up of more than just U.S. troops, and so we will defend ourselves (if) people take aggressive steps against us,” Mattis said, when asked about the strikes.
Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney