DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – The territorial integrity of Syria must be fully restored and all foreign forces should withdraw, including Russia if Damascus decides it doesn’t need Moscow’s help anymore, according to President Vladimir Putin.
"All the forces deployed illegitimately inside any sovereign state – in this case Syria – must leave,” Putin said in a joint interview with RT Arabic, UAE-based Sky News Arabia, and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya broadcasters.
He noted that "this is true for everyone. If Syria’s new legitimate government chooses to say that they have no more need for Russia’s military presence, this will be just as true for Russia".
Meanwhile, Moscow’s stance on the settlement in Syria remains unchanged and was already relayed to its partners Iran, Turkey and the U.S., the president noted.
"Syria must be free from other states’ military presence. And the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic must be completely restored,” he stated.
Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from border areas in Northeastern Syria, saying it was time to "get out of ridiculous endless wars”.
Unlike the Russian military, which arrived in the country at an invitation of the government in Damascus, U.S. forces have been in Syria illegally since 2016. The Syrian government has repeatedly blasted the American military presence as a violation of its sovereignty.
Putin had earlier also warned that the Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria could lead to the revival of the Daesh terrorist group in the region.
He issued the warning in a televised address during a visit to Turkmenistan on Friday, saying that members of the Takfiri outfit held in northeast Syria could escape from jail as a result of the Turkish offensive.
"I'm not sure whether the Turkish army will be able to take this under control -- and how soon," Putin was quoted as saying by the Russia’s Interfax news agency. "This is a real threat to us."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that his country’s military forces and the Turkish-backed militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) had launched an offensive in Syria’s northeast.
A U.S. soldier sits atop an armored vehicle next to a base for the U.S.-led coalition on the outskirts of Ra's al-Ayn town in Syria's Hasakah province near the Turkish border on October 6, 2019.