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Withdrawal of foreign troops stationed in Syria illegitimately is priority, says Kremlin

Only Russian forces' presence in Syria is legitimate as requested by Syria, according to the presidential spokesman
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov  Gavriil Grigorov/TASS
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© Gavriil Grigorov/TASS

SOCHI, October 23./TASS/. The Kremlin is confident that all foreign military deployed in Syria illegitimately, must leave the country, Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

"As for the presence of American soldiers in Syria, our position is well known — only the Russian units are present in Syria legitimately at the invitation of the Syrian leadership," Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Of course, the final goal is a full withdrawal of any foreign armed forces, foreign military from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic," he went on to say. "This position is shared by Moscow and Damascus, and this aim is the ultimate priority after a full political settlement is achieved," Peskov stated.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump confirmed Washington’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria, saying "Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand." He pointed out, however, that the US intended to keep oil fields in northeastern Syria under its control, and to then decide what to do with them.

On October 17, the United States, represented by Vice President Mike Pence, reached a deal with Turkey to pause Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring. Turkey consented to a 120-hour ceasefire so that Kurdish units making up the coalition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could leave the areas of the border security zone that Ankara is attempting to create.

Predictions as to Kurds' attitude to US in light of recent developments

In addressing issues related with trust or distrust towards each other by the parties involved in the situation in Syria one should rely on real action, the Russian presidential spokesman told the media.

"It is necessary to bear in mind the situation that exists de facto, in reality," he said. "Suffice it to recall the situation involving the Kurds. They are unlikely to trust promises by those who were their close partners just recently."

In this way he commented on Washington’s statements about the need for caution in concluding agreements on Syria with Russia.

Peskov recalled that Russia’s sole aim was to ensure a political settlement in Syria and also that country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

On Wednesday, Peskov said that the United States, which had been the Kurds’ closest ally over years, in fact abandoned them on the border face to face with the Turks.

"The United States in recent years was the Kurds’ closest ally," he recalled. "In the end, the US abandoned the Kurds. In fact, it betrayed them. It has preferred to leave the Kurds on the border, nearly forcing them to fight the Turks."

Russia and Turkey on Tuesday agreed on giving the Kurdish Self-Defense Forces 150 hours starting from 12:00 of October 23 to leave the 30-kilometer-wide zone along the border with Turkey.