November 15, 2019
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Assad: Expect Armed Resistance         11/15 06:29

   Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks broadcast Friday that the 
American presence in Syria will lead to armed "resistance" that will eventually 
force the U.S. troops to leave his country.

   DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks 
broadcast Friday that the American presence in Syria will lead to armed 
"resistance" that will eventually force the U.S. troops to leave his country.

   Assad spoke in an interview with Russia24 TV and Rossiya Segodnya news 
agency saying Americans should remember the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and 
that "Syria will not be an exception."

   U.S. officials said this week that Washington will leave about 600 troops in 
Syria to fight the Islamic State group. That followed President Donald Trump's 
decision last month to withdraw the bulk of roughly 1,000 American troops from 
Syria, drawing bipartisan condemnation.

   Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Trump that 
he intended to carry out an operation to clear the Turkey-Syria border of 
Syrian Kurdish fighters who fought side-by-side with U.S. troops in beating 
back IS fighters in northeast Syria. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish 
fighters terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

   After Turkey began an invasion on Oct. 9, capturing dozens of Syrian towns 
and villages and displacing tens of thousands of people, Kurdish fighters then 
turned to the Syrian government for protection.

   Assad subsequently sent troops to areas near the Turkish border, under an 
agreement reached between Russia and Turkey.

   "I have always said that an occupier cannot occupy a piece of land without 
having agents in that country, because it would be difficult for them to live 
in a completely hostile environment," Assad said.

   "The American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which 
will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave," 
said Assad, whose troops are backed by Russian forces.

   "Of course, we are not contemplating a Russian-American confrontation, this 
is self-evident, and it doesn't serve neither our interests, nor the Russians 
nor international stability," he said. "It is dangerous."

   Under another deal reached last month between Turkey and Russia, Syrian 
Kurdish forces withdrew from almost the entire northeastern border from the 
Euphrates River to the Iraqi border.

   Russian and Syrian government forces began moving immediately to ensure the 
Kurdish fighters pull back 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the border, and 
Turkish and Russian troops began joint patrols in the area.

   Assad said the Russian-Turkish agreement regarding the withdrawal of the 
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces must be implemented.

   "They need to withdraw because they provided the Turks with the pretext to 
implement their plan, which they have been dreaming of since the beginning of 
the war" in Syria eight years ago, Assad said.

   He also criticized Kurdish groups seeking to set up an autonomous region 
inside Syria. "We shall never accept any separatist propositions under any 
circumstances," he said. 


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