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Pentagon officials warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that any attempt to remove the United States from the country by force will be met with an “armed response.”
Director of Staff General Kenneth McKenzie explained that any party in Syria should understand that attacking US forces or its coalition partners would be “a bad policy.”
He made the warning after Mr Assad said in an interview with RT that the US was “losing its cards” in Syria and demanded they leave the country, accusing them of prolonging the seven-year war.
The US has around 2,000 troops stationed in Syria as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the country’s north along with a number in Tanf, close to the Jordanian border.
“We are there. Nothing has changed. The maintenance of that deconfliction zone is important and we would view very gravely any actions that tended to change that,” Mr McKenzie said.
The Syrian president explained that Washington “and its puppets” had failed in their bid to destroy the country as he blasted the West for frustrating Syrian military successes by “supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists to Syria, or by hindering the political process.”
He responded to US President Donald Trump’s remarks calling him “an animal” by saying: “What you say is what you are.”
Mr Assad said that, as the majority of the country was coming under government control, he was prepared to enter negotiations with the Kurdish-led SDF over the region in northern Syria known as Rojava.
His words caused fear in the largely Kurdish enclave where the People’s Protection Units (YPG) played a decisive role in the defeat of Isis.
With government forces withdrawing from the area, the region declared semi-autonomy, wishing to remain part of a federal Syria.
However Mr Assad opposes plans for independence from Damascus, seeing such a move as a threat to a united Syria.
“We all distrust the Americans, the one option is to live with each other as Syrians,” he said.
However he warned that should negotiations fail, “the Syrian army will be forced to liberate areas occupied by the SDF, with the Americans or without the Americans.”
Mr Assad insisted the US must leave Syria. “They came to Iraq with no legal basis. And look what happened to them.
“They have to learn their lesson,” he blasted.
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