US military in Syria violate sovereignty, not fighting terror – Damascus

© Namir Noor-Eldeen
The actions of the US military in Syria are a violation of the latter’s sovereignty and not part of any anti-terrorist action, Syria’s deputy foreign minister says.

We doubt that they [US troops] are sincere in their fight against terrorism. They do not coordinate their actions with the Syrian Army. This makes those forces illegal in Syria’s territory. One cannot say they are fighting terrorism,” Faisal al-Mikdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Fighting terrorism must be a practical task, not this advertising gig that the West is engaged in,” he added.

The diplomat spoke after Washington confirmed the deployment of special operations troops in Syria. US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called on Thursday the first commando mission in Syria a success.

"I think the point is that it bore the fruit that we hoped it would," Carter told reporters after meeting with troops, commanders and Kurdish leaders in Irbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish Autonomy.

Mikdad blasted Saudi Arabia for hosting a meeting of various forces seeking to oust the government in Damascus.

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Some of the participants that Saudi Arabia allowed to the conference are not really opposition. Others represented terrorist groups. We can only say that Syria does not negotiate with terrorists. The only place we meet them is the battlefield,” he said.

He also dismissed the hyped-up Riyadh-led military anti-terrorism coalition of 34 nations, which Saudi Arabia revealed this week. Mikdad said the proposed alliance was sectarian in nature and used religious slogans for political goals much like the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) does. The Saudi alliance had a somewhat bumpy start as several nations listed as its members claimed they had learned about their participation from the media.

Mikdad said the Syrian Army may join forces with some groups of the so-called Free Syrian Army, an umbrella organization backed by Western powers that supposedly includes moderate rebel forces.

If all the guns are pointed at one enemy, that is terrorism, we would welcome it. Or they may drop their weapons and go back to peaceful life or enlist into the army,” Mikdad said, adding that rebels wishing to do so must stop partaking in crimes like killings of civilians, kidnappings and pillaging of cities under their control.

The Syrian official said the impact of Russia’s anti-terrorist campaign in Syria is already visible across the country.

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The biggest achievement is the weakening of Daesh [an Arabic abbreviation for Islamic State, previously ISIS/ISIL] and other terrorist groups,” Mikdad said.

Russian airstrikes have degraded the terrorists, as proven by the recapturing of territories in Hama, Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo provinces. Those are significant successes and they will become apparent even more soon,” he said.