US presence in Syria is illegal – Russia

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Russia’s defence ministry attacked US plans to maintain and boost the American military presence in eastern Syria as “international state banditry” motivated by a desire to protect oil smugglers and not by real security concerns.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said Washington would send armoured vehicles and troops to Syrian oil fields to prevent them falling into the hands of Islamic State militants.

His comments came after President Donald Trump earlier this month pulled some 1000 US military personnel from north-east Syria, a move that prompted Turkey to launch a cross-border incursion targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, a former US ally against Islamic State.

In a statement, Russia’s defence ministry said Washington had no mandate under international or US law to increase its military presence in Syria and said its plan was not motivated by genuine security concerns.

“Washington’s current actions – capturing and maintaining military control over oil fields in eastern Syria – is, simply put, international state banditry,” it said.

US troops and private security companies in eastern Syria protect oil smugglers who make more than $30 million a month, the statement said.

Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad and helped him turn the tide of the civil war, has long insisted the US military presence in Syria is illegal.

Moscow further bolstered its position in Syria following the US withdrawal, negotiating a deal with Turkey’ President Tayyip Erdogan to remove the Kurdish YPG militia from a strip along the Syrian-Turkish border.

Ankara views the YPG as terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.

Russia’s defence ministry attacked US plans to maintain and boost the American military presence in eastern Syria as “international state banditry” motivated by a desire to protect oil smugglers and not by real security concerns.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said Washington would send armoured vehicles and troops to Syrian oil fields to prevent them falling into the hands of Islamic State militants.

His comments came after President Donald Trump earlier this month pulled some 1000 US military personnel from north-east Syria, a move that prompted Turkey to launch a cross-border incursion targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, a former US ally against Islamic State.

In a statement, Russia’s defence ministry said Washington had no mandate under international or US law to increase its military presence in Syria and said its plan was not motivated by genuine security concerns.

“Washington’s current actions – capturing and maintaining military control over oil fields in eastern Syria – is, simply put, international state banditry,” it said.

US troops and private security companies in eastern Syria protect oil smugglers who make more than $30 million a month, the statement said.

Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad and helped him turn the tide of the civil war, has long insisted the US military presence in Syria is illegal.

Moscow further bolstered its position in Syria following the US withdrawal, negotiating a deal with Turkey’ President Tayyip Erdogan to remove the Kurdish YPG militia from a strip along the Syrian-Turkish border.



Ankara views the YPG as terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.