US Claims Control over Parts of Syria; Syria Vows to Defend Its Sovereignty and Expel US Troops
June 1, 2018
Jason Ditz Pos/ AntiWar.com & Julia Manchester / The Hill & John Bowden / The Hill
Washington's claim the the US now occupies and controls territory in Syria's southwestern region has provoked the country's leader to vow that Syria will reclaim its sovereignty by "going to resort to liberating those areas by force" if necessary. "We don't have any other options," Assad insisted. He noted that US troops are in the country with no legal basis, and pointed out the consequences of the US having similarly entered Iraq with no legal basis. The US is guilty of the international crime of military aggression.
Assad: Syria Must Get Rid
Of US Troops, by Force if Necessary
'People will not accept foreigners
in this region anymore'
Jason Ditz Pos/ AntiWar.com
(May 31, 2018) -- In an interview with RT, Syrian President Bashar Assad said it is vital for Syria to expel US troops from its territory. He said the first option would be to get the US to agree to leave, but said Syria was "going to resort to liberating those areas by force" if necessary.
"We don't have any other options," Assad insisted. He noted that US troops are in the country with no legal basis, and pointed out the consequences of the US having similarly entered Iraq with no legal basis.
"They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore," Assad added. Syria never authorized a US military presence in their country, but the Pentagon has indicated they intend to keep troops there over the long-term.
At present, all US troops in Syria are within territory held by the Kurdish YPG. The Kurds style this region as semi-autonomous, though they never finished negotiating the details of that autonomy with the central government. The Syrian government and YPG have had a tense relationship, though only rarely have they fought directly.
Syria's army, depleted from years of war, is unlikely to be able to expel even the small number of US troops in the country as a practical matter. Still, Assad has made this a long-term priority for his government, and that greatly complicates the Pentagon's plans to stay.
Syrian President Threatens to Expel US Forces
Julia Manchester / The Hill
(May 31, 2018) – Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed on Thursday to recover the country's territory held by US troops, threatening to expel American forces.
"This is the first option. If not, we're going to resort to liberating those areas by force. We don't have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans," Assad told RT in an interview.
"This is our land, it's our right, and it's our duty to liberate it. The Americans should leave, somehow they're going to leave," he continued. "They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore," he continued.
Tensions between the US and Damascus have ratcheted up during the Trump administration over the United States' actions in the Syria's seven-year civil war.
The US joined the United Kingdom and France in airstrikes against Syria last month following a reported chemical attack on civilians. The US and much of the West blamed the Assad government for the attack, which was launched in a rebel-held area.
"These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," President Trump said in an address following the attack.
The State Department last week expressed concern about an "impending" operation by Assad's forces in Syria that it says will fall inside the boundaries of a US-enforced de-escalation zone.
The State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would respond with "firm and appropriate measures" if the Syrian government were to go against the terms of the cease-fire in the region, located in the southwestern part of the country.
US 'Concerned' about
Possible Assad Operation in Southwest Syria
John Bowden / The Hill
(May 25, 2018) -- The Trump administration late Friday voiced concerns about an "impending" operation by Bashar Assad's forces in Syria that it says will fall inside the boundaries of a US-enforced de-escalation zone.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert warned in a statement that the US would respond with "firm and appropriate measures" if Assad's government were to violate the ceasefire in the region, located in the southwestern part of the country.
"Unfortunately, the Assad regime, with the support of Russia and Iran, has repeatedly violated these de-escalation zones, most recently in its brutal assault on East Ghouta. The Assad regime and its allies continue to prolong the conflict by ignoring their own de-escalation agreements and stonewalling the Geneva process," Nauert said.
She called on Russia to exercise control over the Assad government at the United Nations Security Council, pressing the country to use its "diplomatic and military advantage over the Assad regime to stop attacks and compel the Assad regime to cease further military offensives."
"The United States remains committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it," she said.
The Trump administration joined France and Great Britain in striking Syria with missiles last month following a reported chemical attack on civilians in a rebel-held area that the US blamed on the Assad government.
"These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," President Trump said during a televised address following the chemical attack.
However, Russia -- an ally of Assad's government -- accused the US of deepening the humanitarian crisis in the region with the strikes.
"With their actions, the US is deepening a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria," Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month.
Russia, Iran Denounce US-led Strikes against Syria
Jesse Byrnes / The Hill
(April 14, 2018) -- Russia and Iran on Saturday denounced overnight airstrikes from the US, France and Britain against targets associated with their ally Syrian leader Bashar Assad over an apparent chemical weapons attack.
"With their actions, the US is deepening a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria," Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Putin slammed the strikes as an "act of aggression against a sovereign state" and called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, but stopped short of threatening any specific retaliation against the strikes.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meanwhile, claimed in a post on his website that the leaders of the US, France and Britain "have committed a major crime."
"They will gain no benefit; just as they did not while in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, over the past years, committing the same criminal acts," he said.
Iran and Russia have both been close allies of Syria's Assad, with Moscow providing military support for the Syrian government amid a years-long civil war there.
The Trump administration sought to rebut claims from such allies after launching about 120 missiles Friday at three targets in Syria associated with the government's chemical weapons efforts.
Defense Secretary James Mattis ended a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on Friday night by warning of false reports from "those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime."
"Based on recent experience we fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days," Mattis said.
President Trump announced the "precision strikes" against Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical weapons strike last weekend in the Syrian town of Douma that left dozens of people dead.
It was the second strike that Trump has authorized in response to such an attack, after ordering a strike on a Syrian air base last year following a chemical weapons attack that also left dozens of people dead.
"These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," Trump said during a televised address late Friday from the White House, blasting Assad.
Ellen Mitchell contributed
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