US Forces in Syria ‘Invaders’, President Assad Says

US Forces in Syria ‘Invaders’, President Assad Says

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Syrian President Bashar Assad said he had yet to see "anything concrete" from US President Donald Trump over his vow to defeat Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) and called US forces in Syria "invaders" because they were there without government permission.

Assad, in an interview with Chinese TV station Phoenix, said "in theory" he still saw scope for cooperation with Trump though practically nothing had happened in this regard, Reuters reported.

Assad said Trump's campaign pledge to prioritize the defeat of Daesh had been "a promising approach" but added, "We haven't seen anything concrete yet regarding this rhetoric."

Assad dismissed the US-backed military campaign against ISIL in Syria as "only a few raids" he said had been conducted locally.

"We have hopes that this administration ... is going to implement what we have heard," he added.

Asked about a deployment of US forces near the northern city of Manbij, Assad said, "Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation ... are invaders."

"We don't think this is going to help."

Since 2014, the United States, along with a number of its allies, has been leading a so-called anti-terror campaign in Syria and neighboring Iraq. The campaign has fallen well short of eliminating the terrorists, raising questions as to the nature of the coalition’s military engagement.

Assad noted that the Syrian army was now "very close" to Raqqa city after advancing to the western banks of the Euphrates River.

He said Raqqa was "a priority for us", but indicated that there could also be a parallel attack by the army towards Deir ez-Zor in the east, near the Iraqi border.

The Deir ez-Zor region had been "used by ISIS as a route for logistics support between ISIS in Iraq and ISIS in Syria, so whether you attack the stronghold or you attack the route that ISIS uses, it (has) the same result", Assad said.

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