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UN spokesperson grilled after denying US military presence in Syria

UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq speaks during a press conference in New York on March 25, 2014. (File photo by ENCA)

A United Nations spokesperson has raised eyebrows by denying the US military presence in Syria and obfuscating facts about Washington's war crimes in the Arab country after he was grilled by a Chinese journalist.

Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, made the inflammatory remarks on Tuesday after a Chinese reporter tossed a question about the legality of the US military presence in Syria.

Haq first tried to dodge the question, saying it was not an issue the world body is “dealing with at this stage.”

But the reporter, China Global Television Network’s Xu Dezhi, prodded him about the American military presence in Syria and drew a stark comparison between the situation in Syria and Ukraine.

That prompted the UN spokesperson to deny the US military presence in Syria, only to be left with an embarrassing look when called out by the reporter.

“There are no US armed forces inside of Syria. And so I don't have a… It's not a parallel situation to some of the others,” he said.

When asked by the journalist if he’s sure there’s no military personnel in Syria, Haq replies, “I believe there's military activity.  But, in terms of a ground presence in Syria, I'm not aware of that.”

A video of the exchange has gone viral on social media, with users expressing anger and outrage at the UN spokesperson's denial about the US military presence in the war-ravaged Arab country. 

Haq has been serving as a deputy spokesperson for the UN secretary general for almost a decade.

One of the Twitter users took a jab at Haq, saying there’s military activity in Syria but no US armed forces.

Some Twitter users accused him of being biased in favor of Washington and its allies that have wreaked havoc in Syria for more than a decade.

Independent Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone said it would be great if all officials were interrogated by reporters like Dezhi.

One user called it another evidence of the UN being just an extension of the Western powers, abandoning its independent mandate.
Another Twitter user said the Chinese journalist should have asked questions about the US stealing Syria’s oil, which has been the hallmark of its military occupation of Syria, denounced widely by human rights advocates. 

The US currently has hundreds of troops stationed in Syria. Washington claims its forces are there to fight remnants of the Daesh terrorist group and protect Syria’s energy resources, but the Syrian government says they loot the country's rich oil and other resources.

Last week, Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kana'ani condemned the latest “terrorist” military attacks by the US army against civilian targets in Syria’s Deir ez-Zur province, saying its claim to fight Daesh is merely a pretext to continue occupying Syria and plundering its wealth.

Pertinently, Iran's anti-terror commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US strike in Baghdad in January 2020, spearheaded the fight against the Daesh terrorist group and its backers in both Syria and Iraq.

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