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US troops cannot stay in Syria without permission of Damascus – Moscow

Without the approval of the Syrian government the US military cannot stay in the country, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy to Syria Aleksandr Lavrentiev said on Saturday. “Our position is absolutely clear – American troops should not stay in the territory of a sovereign state without the permission of its government,” he stated. The US military presence can harm the peace efforts in the country, namely the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will be held in Sochi on January 29-30, Lavrentiev said. Moscow, however, wishes to see the US act as an observer during the meeting. The Congress is expected to provide a dialogue platform for the Syrian government and opposition well as to launch the process of creating a new constitution.