Top Syrian diplomat demands Turkey leave Syria
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has demanded Turkey and the United States leave Syria, calling their presence in the country "illegal and a flagrant violation of international law."
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on Sept. 27 demanded Turkish and U.S. troops in Syria leave the country.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mekdad called the presence of Turkish and U.S. troops in northern Syria illegal and a flagrant violation of international law, Newsweek reported.
Hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed in eastern Syria and working with Kurdish-led fighters to combat ISIS. Turkish forces are present in northern Syria, where Turkey has supported and funded rebels against the Syrian army.
Mekdad called for the troops to withdraw voluntarily from Syria, threatening to push them out if they did not go. He did not say how the Syrian government planned to do that.
"Just as we managed to wipe out terrorists from most of Syria, we will work to end the occupation with the same resolve and determination, using all possible means under international law," he said.
Mekdad said Syria's doors are open for the safe return of refugees, accusing Western countries of taking advantage of the suffering of Syrians while pretending to care for their well-being.
He also said Syrian armed forces would continue fighting terrorists until every part of Syria is once again under government control.
"We will not succumb, no matter the pressure and lies and accusations against us," he said.
"We have made it clear that Syria's doors are wide open for the safe and voluntary return of all refugees to their country," Mekdad said, adding that the government was putting the necessary procedures in place to facilitate the return of people and meet their basic needs.
He said while the Syrian government and its allies are making honest efforts on this humanitarian issue, "some continue to take advantage of the suffering of Syrians to serve an agenda that has nothing to do with humanitarian objectives or the interests of Syrians."
Mekdad was addressing the General Assembly for the first time. He was appointed foreign minister in November, after the death of longtime diplomat Walid Moallem, who traveled to New York every year to address the General Assembly.