GENEVA, October 29. /TASS/. The United States and other members of the US-led coalition are stationed in Syria illegally, and their actions run counter to international law, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference after the meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey on the launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.
"When it comes to US actions in Syria, they of course run counter to international law," Lavrov said. "The US and members of the US-led coalition are stationed in Syria illegally, contrary to the position of the Syrian legitimate government," he added.
Protecting oil fields in Syria from Islamic State (terrorist organization banned in Russia) militants serves as a pretext for Americans to stay in Syria, he added.
"Experts in the United States have started a discussion on how to assess everything that is going on right now," Lavrov said. "Experts stated their opinion, and we absolutely agree with it. They cite rulings of international courts on similar situations. Those rulings say that any exploitation of natural resouces of a sovereign state without the state's permission is illegal," he noted.
Lavrov noted that the Russian side shares this approach. "We proceed from this assumption. Our American colleagues know our position very well. We will continue to defend it," he concluded.
The Russian foreign minister noted that military presence of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Syria is approved by the Syrian government.
"The Sochi agreements — both on Idlib a year ago, and on the Syrian-Turkish border on October 22 — were approved by the government in Damascus, personally by President Assad, as well as by Kurds," Lavrov said. "That's why we proceed from the fact that our activities are aimed at achieving peace, ensuring Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. I don't remember similar assessments regarding the actions of the United States on the [Syrian] border," he added.
Lavrov noted that the illegal presence of US troops in Syria is very different from the military presence of Russia, Iran and Turkey in the Syrian Arab Republic.
"If we consider the statements about the necessity to 'protect' oil fields in Syria, it looks like they are 'protecting' them from the Syrian Arab Republic itself," he concluded.