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Russian diplomat says US forces deployed in energy-rich regions of Syria

US Army soldiers prepare to go out on patrol from a remote combat outpost on May 25, 2021 in northeastern Syria. (File photo by Getty Images)

A senior Russian diplomat has lashed out at the persisting illegal presence of US military forces in Syria, demanding from the Pentagon to end its illegitimate occupation of the Arab nation's energy- and mineral-rich regions.

“Washington uses the pretext of combating terrorism to be present east of the Euphrates in economically important areas, where crude oil and strategic natural reserves are abundant" said Russian president’s special representative for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, who also serves Moscow as deputy foreign minister, in an interview published Tuesday by al-Arabiya television news network.

"At the same time," he further pointed out, "its troops are deployed at al-Tanf area in southern Syria,” blasting the practice as a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity.

Bogdanov also censured US support in the terror-ravaged country for the anti-Damascus Kurdish-led militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.

The US military has stationed forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.

Damascus, however, maintains that the unauthorized US deployment is aimed at plundering the country's rich mineral resources.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Tuesday, Bogdanov described the issue of Syrian refugees as a complex one, which requires concerted international efforts, improvement in Syria’s economic situation, and reconstruction of destroyed homes.

The top Russian diplomat also termed Syria’s return to the Arab League and President Bashar al-Assad’s attendance at the Jeddah summit as an “important and positive” development.

He expressed hope that Syria’s reintegration into the Arab world would contribute to finding a promising solution to the Syrian crisis and the return of refugees.

Arab government representatives in Cairo voted on May 7 to return Syria to the Arab League after a 12-year suspension.

All 13 of the 22 member states that attended the session endorsed the decision. However, there is still no Arab consensus on the normalization of ties with Damascus.

Several governments did not attend the meeting. Among the most notable absentees was Qatar, which continues to back the so-called moderate opposition groups against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

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