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Russian foreign minister says US intervention in Syria illegal

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shows the way to his Argentinian counterpart, Jorge Marcelo Faurie, during a meeting in Moscow on November 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has slammed a US claim that Washington is conducting military operations in Syria under a UN mandate, saying the American intervention is illegal.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis was asked on Monday about the legal standing of his country’s presence in Syria compared to that of Russia and Iran, which are both fighting terrorists at the Damascus government's request. 

“You know, the UN said that … -- basically we can go after ISIS (Daesh). And we're there to take them out,” Mattis said.

Lavrov rejected the claims at a joint press conference with his Argentinian counterpart Jorge Marcelo Faurie in Moscow on Thursday.

"It is quite interesting how the US justifies its presence there, which is illegitimate because it does not rely either on the decision of the UN Security Council or on the invitation of the legitimate government,” he said.

The top Russian diplomat also noted that there was no Security Council resolution that allowed US troops on the Syrian territory.

Lavrov further said the US State Department had answered "incoherently" when questioned by Moscow on what kind of Security Council solutions Washington was using to justify its operations in Syria.

“They answered something incoherently, and it seemed the respondent clearly understood the absurdity of statements about the existence of allegedly legitimate grounds for finding the US armed forces in Syria."

Reacting to Mattis’ remarks, Syria on Tuesday condemned the US military presence in the country as “an act of aggression.”

Russia and Iran have been assisting the Syrian government in its counter-terrorism battle.

On the contrary, the US and its allies back militants fighting to topple the Syrian government. American warplanes have been bombing Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate, which has seriously damaged the country's infrastructure. 

The airstrikes have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.

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