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Tillerson Set To Visit Middle East Amid Rising Tensions In Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (file photo)
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to the Middle East amid rising tensions over heightened violence in Syria.

The State Department said on February 8 that Tillerson will visit Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Kuwait during his trip that has been planned for February 11-16.

Among the scheduled events, Tillerson will head the U.S. delegation to the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State in Kuwait and participate in the Iraq Reconstruction Conference, which begins on February 13.

It will be the third Global Coalition meeting and the first since the Islamic State extremists were driven out of their erstwhile strongholds in Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, and mostly defeated on the battlefield throughout the two countries.

The Iraq Reconstruction Conference will look at private-sector investment opportunities and international support for the rebuilding of Iraq.

Syria and its nearly seven-year civil war will likely be a key topic in Tillerson's talks with regional leaders.

On February 8, the United Nations Security Council rejected an appeal from UN aid officials for a monthlong humanitarian ceasefire in Syria amid calls by the United States for Syria and its Russia ally to end their attacks against rebel-held areas.

Russia opposed the call for the cease-fire supported by the United States, calling it unrealistic.

That call came after U.S.-led coalition air and local ground forces in Syria killed more than 100 pro-Syrian fighters following an "unprovoked attack" on the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters.

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