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Assad: US military base in Syria's strategic al-Tanf serves as base for training terrorists

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks in an exclusive interview with the Arabic-language service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency on March 16, 2023.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says US occupation forces have turned their military base in the Arab country’s strategic al-Tanf region near the borders with Iraq and Jordan into a bastion for Takfiri terrorists.

“We are in a state of direct confrontation with terrorist groups near al-Tanf region. Al-Tanf serves entirely as a base for training terrorists, and has no purpose other than that. What benefits do American forces drive from their deployment in the desert region?” Assad, who is in Moscow on an official trip, said in an exclusive interview with the Arabic-language service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency.

He added, “There is no doubt that the US has barracks for terrorists, where tens of thousands of them and their families are accommodated. They are transferred between different areas from time to time in order to carry out terror attacks against Syrian army soldiers, and cause chaos. We are quite sure of these moves, and have abundant pieces of evidence in this regard.”

Assad’s remarks come days after Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported that US occupation forces had airlifted dozens of members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from a prison in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah to nearby military facilities before transferring them to al-Tanf base.

A number of captured Daesh terrorists have already confessed to close cooperation with US military forces stationed at al-Tanf base in the central Syrian province of Homs on carrying out various acts of terror and sabotage.

During confessions broadcast on Syria’s state-run television network in May 2020, several terrorists revealed that they were instructed by American forces to target Syrian government troops in and around the ancient city of Palmyra, the Tiyas Military Airbase – also known as the T-4 Airbase, the Shaer gas field as well as nearby oil wells.

Separately, Assad said in an interview with Russia's RT Arabic television news network that Syrian and Turkish nations harbor no enmity towards each other, lashing out at Turkey’s ruling AK Party over its hostile policies against Damascus.

“The top priority of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is solely the country’s next parliamentary and presidential elections – which are scheduled to take place on May 14. This is while our number-one priority at present is the withdrawal of foreign forces, namely Turkish and US soldiers, from the Syrian soil,” the Syrian president pointed out.

Assad also condemned a surprise visit by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley to an army base in Syria’s northeast, which is under the control of the Kurdish-led and so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), saying that the unannounced trip shows that the US is the most rogue state in the world.

In his snap visit on March 4, Milley met US troops stationed in areas of war-torn Syria under the control of the SDF.

About 900 US soldiers are deployed in several bases and posts across northeastern Syria, in what Washington claims to be as part of the fight against Daesh remnants.

Following the visit, a Syrian foreign ministry official said that Damascus “strongly condemns the illegal visit of the American chairman of the chiefs of staff to an illegal American military base in northeast Syria.”

Milley’s visit was “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity” of Syrian territory, the official added, according to SANA, calling on “the US administration to immediately cease its systematic and continued violation of international law and support for separatist armed groups.”

In his remarks, the Syrian president also hailed a Chinese-mediated rapprochement  agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties.

He also praised Damascus-Tehran ties, saying they have developed a strong friendship over past four decades.

After several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia finally clinched a deal on Friday to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions within two months.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government, stormed its embassy in Tehran

The Syrian leader also commented on recurrent Israeli airstrikes on his country, stating that the regime has frequently bombed Syria and aggravated the situation since 2013. He also slammed Tel Aviv for helping the US in creation of the Daesh terrorist group.

Israel frequently carries out missile attacks on targets in Syria, mostly using the airspace of Lebanon or the occupied territories.

The regime frequently violates Syrian sovereignty by targeting military positions inside the country, especially those of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, which has played a key role in helping the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

Israel mostly keeps quiet about its attacks on the Syrian territories, which many view as a knee-jerk reaction to the Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism.

The Tel Aviv regime has been a main supporter of terrorist groups that have battled the government of Assad since foreign-backed militancy erupted in Syria in early 2011.

Syria has repeatedly complained to the UN over Israeli assaults, urging the Security Council to take action against Tel Aviv’s crimes. The calls have, however, fallen on deaf ears.

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