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Syria’s defense minister slams ‘illegitimate US presence’

Syria’s defense minister has slammed what he called the “illegitimate” US military presence in his country, adding that Damascus has a right to defend itself. Gen. Ali Ayoub spoke on Monday in the capital during a joint news conference with visiting Iranian and Iraqi army commanders, AP said. The US currently has about 2,000 troops in eastern Syria and is expected to withdraw hundreds of them in the coming months. The Iraqi army commander, Gen. Osman Ghanemi, said a border crossing between Syria and Iraq is to be opened in the coming days.