Assad says US must leave Syria, vows to recover SDF areas

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that only Syrian government troops should have a presence on Syria's southern border, which is close to Jordan and Israel.

"Thankfully, it has been averted, not by the knowledge of the American management, however by the knowledge of the Russian management".

The SDF, which Assad dubbed the "only problem left in Syria", would be confronted with force if negotiations fail, the president said.

"This is the first option". If not, we're going to resort to ... liberating those areas by force. He noted that U.S. troops are in the country with no legal basis, and pointed out the consequences of the USA having similarly entered Iraq with no legal basis. "They have to learn this lesson".

Syria's army has been bolstered by fighters from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and local militias, but it was Russia's vast 2015 military intervention that turned the tide in Assad's favour.

"The majority of the people who were against the the different liberated areas, actually in their hearts they are with the government", Assad said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that his administration has almost won the seven-year-long war in Syria as the army has made major progress in the fight against the rebels, noting that the West tries to prolong the crisis with every Syrian victory.

His European tour follows the United States withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal which the European signatories, France, Germany and Britain, have said they will stick to.

In a Wednesday interview with Russian broadcaster Russia Today, al-Assad said the conflict in his country was "almost over".

The secret agreement, according to sources quoted by Israeli media, covered many areas of concern, including Iran's nuclear and missile programs and its activities in Syria.

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He leveled an even more vicious version of the same charge against Israel, describing al-Qaeda and ISIS as their "dear ones", the instruments Israel used in a failed effort to tear Syria apart. (Reportedly, a deal is in place to keep them there until 2092.) The Iranians just seem to enjoy causing any trouble they can stir up for the United States and Israel.

He told RT's Murad Gazdiev, that he believes Washington is "losing its cards" in the Syria conflict, and that he is confident that Trump will therefor come to him to negotiate.

He claimed it had been a desperate attempt among the Western allies to drum up support for subsequent missile strikes in Syria.

‎"On the other hand, Israel made it clear ‎to the Syrians, and especially to the Iranians, that ‎it would not allow Iranian forces to operate alongside the Syrian army in Daraa and Quneitra, ‎even at the price of a security escalation that ‎could lead to a direct military confrontation with ‎Iran".

The SDF wants a "democratic system based on diversity, equality, freedom and justice" for all the country's ethnic and religious groups, he added in a voice message to Reuters.

Also Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Moscow for talks focusing on Syria.

The Moscow meeting was also attended by the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj.

Mr Assad denied attacking his own people and said the attack would not have been in the government's interest: "They told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn't buy their story, but they couldn't withdraw".

Responding to US President Donald Trump's description of him as "Animal Assad", the Syrian leader shot back: "What you say is what you are".