Ambassador James Jeffrey, the current special representative for Syria engagement, will take on the additional role of special envoy for the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) effective Friday, the State Department said.
Brett McGurk, who served in post for three years, resigned Dec. 22 following US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria. The move also saw the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
“With this additional responsibility, Ambassador Jeffrey will lead and coordinate U.S. Department of State relations with the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and Department efforts to implement President Trump’s announcement of a responsible U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria,” deputy State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement.
The US withdrawal comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has been a US partner in the fight against ISIS.
Jeffrey was appointed as the secretary of state’s special representative for Syria engagement on Aug. 17, 2018. He previously served as US ambassador to Iraq from 2010 to 2012, and Turkey from 2008 to 2010. He was deputy national security advisor from 2007 to 2008.