Syria on Thursday blasted US plans to keep its troops in the troubled country, vowing to oust the American military and claiming that Washington’s “destructive policies in the region” posed “a serious threat” to international security and stability.
The state news agency Sana, quoted Ayman Sousan, assistant foreign and expatriates minister, as saying that a US presence on Syrian soil represented “utter aggression and a blatant violation of the international law.”
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that US troops would remain in Syria not just to fight jihadists but also to counter the power of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his ally Iran.
In a speech on the US strategy to help end Syria’s seven-year civil war, Tillerson stressed that the mission of the US military was to destroy the Islamic State group and prevent its resurgence.
But he also made it clear that the open-ended deployment was intended to help create enough stability for Syrians to remove Assad from office and reject Iranian influence.
“A total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad to continue his brutal treatment against his own people,” Tillerson told an audience at Stanford University.
Speaking to a delegation from the Federation of Arab American Associations, Sousan, the Syrian assistant minister, said the “Syrian people” were determined to end any US military presence and prevent external intervention in “the national choices of the Syrian people.”
He thanked Arab communities for their role pressuring their governments “to adopt policies that serve peace and stability and cooperation among states instead of attempts to impose hegemony and increase tension.”
Russia, which, together with Iran, has supported the Syrian regime during the civil war, has deep military and economic interests in Syria and maintains a powerful military presence there.