President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. President Trump relayed concerns that escalating violence in Afrin, Syria, risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria. He urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve precision strikes killed an estimated 145-150 ISIS terrorists near As Shafah, Syria Jan. 20.
The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparation to confirm an ISIS headquarters and command and control center in an exclusively ISIS-occupied location in the contested Middle Euphrates River Valley.
The United States congratulates India on becoming the newest member of the Australia Group, an informal forum that seeks to prevent the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, and which now counts 43 members.
MS NAUERT: Hi, everybody. Hi, Nazira, nice to see you. Hi, everyone, how are you today? I’d like to start out with a couple toppers to provide you. The first one – it’s the first time that we’ve been together since that horrific attack took place in Afghanistan just a few days ago, so I’d like to start out addressing that today.
The United States strongly condemns the attack on January 20th at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Violence like this has no place in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded, including multiple U.S. citizens who were among the casualties. The protection of U.S. citizens is our highest priority. We’ve been providing assistance and notifying family members following that attack.
As directed in the June 16, 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba,” the Department of State is convening a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba. The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access and independent media in Cuba.
Reports of chlorine gas being used against innocent civilians in Eastern Ghouta by the Syrian regime are yet another demonstration of its blatant disregard for international law and cruel indifference for the lives of its own people. In November, Russia vetoed the renewal of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), the independent, impartial, technical group unanimously created by the UN Security Council to investigate the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and identify those responsible.
The Department of State has designated two ISIS members, Siddhartha Dhar and Abdelatif Gaini, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. E.O. 13224 imposes sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. These designations seek to deny Dhar and Gaini the resources they need to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks. Among other consequences, all of Dhar’s and Gaini’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.
We condemn in the strongest terms the violence perpetrated by DRC security forces on January 21 against church-led peaceful protests that resulted in at least six confirmed deaths, dozens of injuries, and numerous arbitrary arrests.
The Secretary of State reported on January 12, 2018, to the appropriate congressional committees, consistent with Section 306(c)(2) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-114; 22 U.S.C. 6021-6091) and pursuant to the authority delegated to the Secretary by the President on January 31, 2013, that he had made the statutorily required determination in order to suspend for six months beyond February 1, 2018, the right to bring an action under Title III of the Act.
Russia has convened us with almost no notice and then put forth a proposal that they hope will distract from a new French initiative to hold accountable those who use chemical weapons. Today, Russia is yet doing what it does best when it comes to chemical weapons. Russia is running from the facts.