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Russia warns of US plan to set up a quasi-state in Syria

This photo shows participants at the so-called Syrian clans conference, organized by US-backed Kurdish militants, in Ayn Issa, Raqqah Province, Syria, May 3, 2019.

Russia has denounced a recent meeting of tribes in Syria, organized by US-backed Kurdish militants, saying Washington is using the Kurds to split the Arab country and continue its illegal military presence there.

"The United States and its allies have been consistently carrying out a course towards settling the Syrian crisis only with the goal of ensuring its long-term presence in Syria," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday.

To that aim, it added, Washington and its allies are using Kurdish militants who "are now seeking to set up a quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River with the US assistance."

The statement came one day after the town of Ayn Issa, situated in Syria's northern Raqqah Province, hosted the so-called Syrian clans conference.

The event was organized by the so-called Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a US-backed anti-Damascus alliance of mainly Kurdish militants.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the majority of Arab tribes' leaders in the Eastern Euphrates opposed the meeting, but the US used tactics such as force, blackmail and bribery to gather the participants.  

The event's organizers had even recruited participants from refugee camps, including the al-Hawl camp in Hasakah Province, it added.

"This event, which is obviously aimed at splitting the country, blatantly violates the declared UN principles of preserving territorial integrity and state sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, including those stipulated by Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council," the statement read.

"The move is clearly aimed at undermining the efforts of the international community, the UN and guarantor states (Russia, Iran, Turkey) of the Astana format on settling the Syrian crisis as soon as possible," it added.

Syria has already condemned the Ayn Issa gathering as " a meeting of treason, treachery, and subjugation.”

An official source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said such events confirm that their "organizers are pursuing delusions that have been proven throughout history to be impossible to realize, especially during the final years of the terrorist war, regardless of how much foreign support they receive or how much they subjugate themselves to the US or others."

The source further warned Syria militants that "accepting the dictations" of the Americans or others would only bring them "shame and disgrace."

SDF rejects reconciliation with Damascus

In an address to the Ayn Issa meeting on Saturday, the SDF expressed its readiness to hold talks with Damascus over the future of the territory under its control in Syria's northeast, but rejected a government-prescribed reconciliation agreement.

"We are ready for dialogue with ... the central government, in order to reach a democratic solution for all of Syria, including the northeast" said SDF chief Mazloum Kobani.

However, "we cannot solve existing issues, and large problems in this region... through reconciliation" deals, he noted.

Back in March, Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub said SDF militants had to agree to "national reconciliation or the liberation of the areas that they control through force."

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