Tuesday 21 November 2017

US urged to withdraw forces from Syria

James Mattis said the US were not keen on withdrawing troops from Syria just now (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AP/PA)
James Mattis said the US were not keen on withdrawing troops from Syria just now (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AP/PA)

Syria has called on the US to withdraw its forces from the country now that the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group is nearly over.

A Foreign Ministry statement, carried by state-run media on Tuesday, says the presence of the troops will not force a political solution to the conflict.

The comments came a day after US secretary of defence Jim Mattis said "we are not going to just walk away right now" before the UN-backed political process yields results.

US troops and advisers are supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against IS militants in northern and eastern Syria.

Kurdish officials want US troops to remain in the country to help prevent clashes with pro-government forces, which are also battling IS.

US officials say they are maintaining contacts with their Russian counterparts to ensure no friction occurs between the two forces. Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, a war monitoring group says the death toll from air strikes on a market in northern Syria on Monday climbed to 61.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says there were six women, five children, and three police officers among those killed in the three strikes in the opposition-held town of Atareb.

Rami Abdurrahman, the observatory's director, says the rest were male civilians.

Yasser Hmeish, a doctor at the scene, says rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Tuesday morning.

The Observatory said it could not determine whether Russia or the Syrian government was behind the attack.

AP

Press Association

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