The opposition Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) welcomes a recent statement by the Russian Special Envoy for Syria on the removal of foreign troops from the Middle Eastern country, SNC member Firas Khalidi told Sputnik.
“We welcome the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria in the framework of the fair political process, which establishes peace in Syria,” SNC member Firas Khalidi said.
The announcement refers to Friday’s statement by Russia’s Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, who said that the entire contingent of foreign troops, including servicemen from Turkey, the United States, as well as the Hezbollah movement, should be withdrawn from Syria. As the envoy specified, the remaining Russian troops in the country wouldn’t pullout.
US-led Coalition in Syria
The US-led coalition has been launching airstrikes on Syrian soil since 2014, as a part of the anti-Daesh mission that wasn’t approved either by Damascus or by the UN. Currently, at least 2,000 US servicemen are deployed in Syria. According to the SDF forces, the US-led coalition forces have been stationing in the city of Manbij in northeastern Syria since it was liberated from Daesh militants two years ago.
In March Trump announced he was planning to withdraw the country’s forces from Syria, following allied victories against Daesh. However, his plans met strong opposition among US officials, including special envoy to the US-led coalition Brett McGurk, as well as incoming US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford and some others.
After the strong reaction from the officials, Trump decided to keep troops in Syria, with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis declaring that the number of forces on the ground would be expanded.
In April, the US president increased the US involvement by ordering missile strikes against Syria in response to an alleged poison gas attack that killed dozens of people.
France, a US ally in the international coalition against Daesh, has recently increased its military presence in some YPG/PKK-held areas in Syria, including Manbij, Al Hasakah, Ayn Issa and Raqqa.
Russia’s Military in Syria
Russia has two military bases in Syria: in Tartus and Hmeymim, as well as the center for Syrian reconciliation. The country launched a military operation against terrorist groups in Syria in September 2015 at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Two years later, in 2017 Moscow withdrew the biggest part of the forces from Syria soon after the announcement of the Daesh defeat.