United Nations: Syria’s foreign minister on Saturday denounced US, French and Turkish forces operating in his country as “occupying forces” and demanded that they leave immediately.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Walid Al Mua’alem, who is also Syria’s deputy prime minister, said the foreign forces “will be dealt with accordingly. They must withdraw immediately and without any conditions.”
He said his country’s “battle against terrorism is almost over” after more than seven years of civil war.
He vehemently restated denials that Damascus has used chemical weapons during the war — although international investigators have found otherwise — and he called on all refugees to return home, saying that is a priority for Damascus.
“Today, the situation on the ground is more stable and secure, thanks to combating terrorism,” he said. “All conditions are now present for the voluntary return of refugees.”
He spoke at a time when Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have retaken most of the territory rebels seized during the war that has killed over 400,000 people and driven millions from their homes.
A military offensive by President Bashar Al Assad’s forces on Idlib, the last remaining rebel stronghold, was averted last week in a deal reached between Russia and Turkey to set up a demilitarised zone around the province. Still, there is uncertainty over how the deal will be implemented” two insurgent groups have rejected it.