US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US's objective in the Middle East included "countering terrorism in whatever form" during a moderated conversation on the 'Leadership Role of the US in the World' in Washington DC on Thursday.

"It seems like a long time ago, we were watching people in cages and heads being cut off on beaches. That threat remains; the threat from radical Islamic terrorism is not only in the Middle East, it's in East Asia," said Pompeo. "Inside of Syria itself, you still have remnants of ISIS, you've got Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, lots of different Sunni terror groups there too," Pompeo added.

"Whether the right number is two hundred, or two thousand or twenty thousand, president Trump is committed to making sure that we execute that counter-terrorism mission," Pompeo continued.

Pompeo accused Iran of being the biggest threat to the region's stability, saying "you don't have to go very far in the Middle East or talk to very many countries before the Islamic Republic of Iran rises to the top of the pile, in terms of the threat to stability there."

Touching down on Yemen, Pompeo said the US's role in the conflict has reduced civilian casualties in the country. "I can show you the statistics since Americans began to assist the Saudis in their campaign. The ratio of civilian casualties to effectiveness has decreased dramatically and that's important. So it's been a good thing that we've helped them," Pompeo said.

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