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WASHINGTON must end its illegal presence in Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday, accusing the US of seeking the partition of the country.
He said that US troops, which are stationed in the largely Kurdish north-east of Syria, are undermining its territorial integrity.
“One of the main reasons for the instability and continuation of the conflict in Syria is the illegal presence of the United States in the country,” he said.
“I think that in their arsenal there is a scenario of a de facto partition of Syria. We are against this and are acting in accordance with the existing resolutions of the UN security council, which has confirmed the territorial integrity of Syria.”
The US has about 900 troops inside the country, part of an anti-Isis coalition which had been fighting alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
But with the threat of the jihadists diminished as the Syrian government reasserts control over the rest of the country, justification for the continued US presence is coming under question.
A controversial oil deal struck with the Republican-backed Delta Crescent company collapsed earlier this year after the Biden administration cancelled the waiver allowing it to bypass the Caesar Act sanctions.
But Syrian Democratic Council spokeswoman Ilhan Ahmed said in an interview last month that the deal was being rejuvenated, calling it “a positive step.”
She also indicated that the US presence will be a permanent one, saying that Isis is not only an armed group, but “a mentality” and that its troops will remain in north-east Syria.
Earlier this week SDF commander Mazlum Abdi met with US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie who reassured him that there would no “no changes in Syria” in the aftermath of the US debacle in Afghanistan.
But the US presence has been branded an occupation by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and was criticised by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.
He called it a violation of international law that is hindering the Syrian recovery.
Officials from the semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave known alternatively as Rojava or the Autonomous Area of North East Syria (AANES) have launched a major campaign for recognition by world powers.
AANES offices have been opened in Geneva, amid claims that talks with the Syrian government, which recently announced plans for decentralisation, are non-existent.
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