Damascus tells US, French, Turkish troops to 'withdraw immediately'

Damascus tells US, French, Turkish troops to 'withdraw immediately'
The US, France and Turkey all have troops stationed in Syria, in addition to regime backers Russia and Iran.
2 min read
29 September, 2018
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Moscow [Getty]

Syria's foreign minister on Saturday denounced US, French and Turkish forces operating in his country as "occupying forces" and demanded that they leave immediately.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, who serves as well as Syria's deputy prime minister, also called on Syrian refugees to come home, even though the country's war is now in its eighth year.

Moualem said the foreign forces were on Syrian soil illegally, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, and "will be dealt with accordingly."

"They must withdraw immediately and without any conditions," he told the assembly.

The US has some 2,000 troops in Syria, mainly training and advising both Kurdish forces and Syrian Arabs opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

France has more than 1,000 troops on the ground in the war-wracked country.

In addition to the US, France and Turkey, regime backers Russia and Iran maintain a military presence in the country.

Russia launched its campaign in Syria in 2015 to support Assad and helped turn the tide of war in favour of Syrian regime forces.

Russia's stepped-up role in Syria enabled Assad's forces, which had been losing ground to the armed opposition, to gain the upper hand in the war and reclaim wide swathes of territory held by the rebels.

Earlier this week, US national security adviser John Bolton said the US will remain in Syria "until Iran leaves".

More than 360,000 people have died and millions displaced from their homes since the regime responded to anti-Assad protests in 2011 with brutal repression.

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