News ID: 240406
Published: 0441 GMT March 18, 2019

Syria defense minister vows to retake control of Kurdish areas

Syria defense minister vows to retake control of Kurdish areas

Baqeri: Anti-terror fight to continue

Syrian government forces will reclaim control of northeastern areas controlled by the US-backed Kurds, whether by force or through reconciliation, the defense minister said on Monday.

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub spoke on Monday in the capital, Damascus, during a joint news conference with visiting military chiefs of staff of Iraq and Iran.

Ayoub slammed the “illegitimate” US military presence in his country, vowing that Syria has a right to self-defense.

The US currently has about 2,000 troops in eastern Syria and is expected to withdraw hundreds of them in the coming months.

He said the Syrian government will recapture territory controlled by Kurdish-led forces in the same way it "liberated" other parts of Syria.

"The Syrian government will deal with this issue in one of two ways: A reconciliation agreement or liberating the territory they control by force," he said.

"The only card that remains in the hands of the Americans and their allies is" the Syrian Democratic Forces, he said.

Backed by a US-led coalition, Kurdish forces have also launched an offensive in Syria against the Daesh terrorist group.

His comments come as the SDF battle terrorists in their last patch of territory in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.

Eight years into a war that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions, Syrian government forces control almost two-thirds of the country.

Just two areas remain beyond their control: The terrorist-held northwestern region of Idlib, and the third of the country under the control of the SDF.

Ayoub on Monday said Idlib will also be recaptured by government forces.

"The Syrian government will reassert its complete control over all Syrian territory sooner or later," he said.

"Idlib is no exception."

Ayoub stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between the three militaries to combat mutual threats.

He said what emerged from talks "will help us continue to confront challenges, dangers and threats" posed by terrorism.

The meeting illustrates the strong alliance between Iran, Iraq and Syria at a time when the US is seeking to increase sanctions against Iran and its regional allies.

During the press conference, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri warned about efforts by stooges of the global arrogance to fuel insecurity in the Middle East, stressing that the fight against terrorists will continue until their full elimination.

Iran's military chief said at the present time, the main goal is to preserve national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, adding, "Measures taken by the three countries will continue until terrorists are fully defeated."

Baqeri added that withdrawal of foreign forces that are present in Syria without any authorization from the country's government is also top on the agenda of the three states.

Iraqi Army Commander Gen. Osman Ghanemi also said a border crossing between Syria and Iraq is to be opened in the coming days.

"God willing the coming days will witness the opening of the border crossing and the continuation of visits and trade between the two countries," Ghanemi said at the news conference.

Heading a high-ranking military delegation, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri traveled to Damascus to attend trilateral talks with his Syrian and Iraqi counterparts on ways to boost military ties and strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

AFP, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.








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