TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moalem called for an immediate withdrawal of all US and Turkish troops from his country and warned that Syrian forces had the right to take countermeasures if they refused.
The United States has around 1,000 troops. Turkey has also launched military incursions into northern Syria, targeting Kurdish YPG fighters.
“Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and must withdraw immediately,” al-Moalem said during a Saturday address to the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York, Reuters reported.
“If they refuse, we have the right to take any and all countermeasures authorized under international law,” he said.
The US intervention in Syria began with airstrikes in September 2014 under Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
While Syria did not approve a US presence there, the Obama administration justified the military action under Article 51 of the UN Charter, which covers the individual or collective right of states to self-defense against armed attack.
“The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria,” al-Moalem said, describing US and Turkish efforts to create a “safe zone” inside Syria as a violation of the UN Charter.
Turkey plans to build homes to settle 1 million Syrian refugees in the zone.
The United States and Turkey have started joint land and air patrols along part of Syria’s border with Turkey, but Ankara remains angry with Washington’s support for the YPG.
“We are determined to continue our war against terrorism in all its forms until rooting out the last remaining terrorist,” al-Moualem said.