Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the US has no intention of leaving Syrian soil, but on the contrary it is seeking to strengthen its foothold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
US President Donald Trump raised eyebrows last month after claiming that his country would withdraw from Syria “very soon.”
However, top US Defense and State Department officials reacted by adopting a totally different stance, arguing that the US should not leave anytime soon as the “mission is not over.” Also, reports emerged later showing that Trump’s advisors had apparently dissuaded him.
“The US pledged that their only aim was to repel terrorists from Syria, to defeat” the Daesh terror group, Lavrov told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.
“Despite all their claims, despite President Trump’s claims, the US is actually positioning itself on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and has no intention of leaving.”
Washington and its allies have been launching attacks on Syria since 2014, claiming they seek to root out Daesh. The mission, which does not have the Syrian government’s approval or a UN mandate, is still underway despite the collapse of the terror group late last year.
Lavrov had said earlier that the US seemed to be establishing a quasi-state on the river’s eastern bank.
The US-led coalition runs a military base in the al-Tanf town in eastern Syria. Washington has described the area, which lies at the ultra-strategic intersection of the Syrian, Iraqi, and Jordanian borders, as its “red line.”
On numerous occasions, the Russian military, which has been assisting the Syrian army in its anti-terrorism operations, has reported suspicious activities in and around the base in support of Takfiri terrorists.
Late last year, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov said satellite and other surveillance data indicated that terrorist squads were stationed in the Tanf base, and “effectively training there.”
US forces also maintain significant presence in northern Syria, where they back Kurdish militants operating against the Syrian government.
Washington has deployed around 2,000 troops to Syria.
Last month, Alexander Venediktov, an official from Russia’s Security Council, said the US had set up around 20 military bases in areas controlled by the Kurdish militants.
Lavrov, meanwhile, said he hoped it would become clearer how to cooperate “on settling the Syrian issue” after contacts with his counterpart from France.
The US, France, and Britain recently carried out a coordinated missile attack against Syria in what they claimed to be a response to the Damascus government’s use of chemical weapons, an allegation Syria has strongly rejected.
Moscow has condemned the offensive, saying it targeted the Arab country’s chance to have a peaceful future.