Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatened this week to expel U.S. troops from northeastern Syria if upcoming negotiations do not allow for to the region to fall back under government control.
The Syrian government is currently talking with local factions, but if the dialogue fails, Assad is prepared to liberate the area “by force,” the Washington Post reported.
Assad: US troops in Syria should learn the “lesson” of Iraq & get out of Syria, or they will be expelled by force. “They came to Iraq with no legal basis & look what happened to them”. https://t.co/EYxBYCYUON
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) May 31, 2018
“We are going to resort to liberating the area by force, with the Americans or without the Americans. The Americans should leave somehow. They are going to leave,” Assad said during an interview with RT.
Assad remarked that the U.S. should view Iraq as an example of what might happen if Syria decides to take action.
“They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them,” Assad said of U.S. forces. “They have to learn this lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People don’t accept foreigners in this region anymore.”
American troops in Iraq faced widespread insurgency, which was partly fueled by the Syrian government. According to U.S. military and Iraqi officials, Syria helped funnel hundreds of foreign fighters across the Syrian border
In response to Assad’s threat, the Pentagon reaffirmed that any sort of attack would not be a good move.
“Any interested party in Syria should understand that attacking U.S. forces or our coalition partners would be a bad policy,” said Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., director of the Joint Staff.
Syrian Kurds currently claim northeastern Syria as a self-governing autonomous region, with the area being the biggest territory outside the control of the government. The U.S. currently deploys around 2,000 troops in the area as a means to help the local Kurdish-led militia fight the Islamic State militant group.
The faction was a product of the seven-year civil war in which a number of regions fell out of government control. Assad in recent months has asserted his authority over the remaining regions of opposition-held territory and reiterated that he intends on brining all parts of the country back under his reign.
“We’re going to liberate every area. It is impossible for us to leave any area outside of government control,” he said.
President Trump has long stated his desired to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has yet to do so on the advice of military leaders who suggest that troops remain in the region until the last pocket of militant fighters is removed from the Syria-Iraq border.