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Syria’s President says no intelligence sharing with France

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Damascus: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ruled out collaborating with France and said his country is ready to share intelligence with it only if Paris changed its policy toward Syria.

“We are ready to exchange intelligence with France if Paris changed its policy toward Syria and we have repeatedly called for the necessity to form an international coalition against terrorism,” a news agency quoted Assad as saying during an interview with a French magazine.

“If the French government is not serious in its fight against terrorism, we will not waste our time collaborating with a country, government or an institution that supports terrorism,” he said.

Assad said the only way to determine what the Syrians want will be through the ballot boxes, not through foreign pressures.

“The question of my resignation from the post depends entirely on the will of the people of Syria and parliament. Those who want to destroy Syria, most of all want to destroy the last secular state in the region,” he said.

The interview came after November 13 attacks in Paris that claimed art least 129 lives and injured over 350 people.

In his first comments on the attacks, Assad on Saturday condemned the attacks, saying France is suffering the same terror as Syria has been.

“What France suffered from savage terror is what the Syrian people have been enduring for five years,” Assad said during his meeting with a visiting delegation of French lawmakers.

“The wrong policies of the West, including France, in the Arab region, have contributed to the spread of terrorism,” added Assad.

The Syrian government has for long accused the West of supporting the insurgency against Assad’s rule, deeming such actions as a “support of terror”.

Assad stressed the importance of adopting new policies that could be efficient in curbing the support of terror groups, by drying up their resources and halting their logistic and political support till finally eliminating them completely.

(IANS)

 

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Video: US Starts Removing Troops From Syria

Meanwhile, Russia claimed earlier this week it had started doing military patrols in Manbij, tweeting out video, although sources say the Russians likely are not in Manbij proper

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FILE - U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria..

The U.S.-led coalition in Syria is beginning to remove troops from the country.

The coalition “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” said Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S. coalition fighting the Islamic State terror group. “Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements.”

There are roughly 2,000 U.S. military personnel in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that the withdrawal began late Thursday, when about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment pulled out from a U.S. base in Rmeilan in Hassakeh province. The group also is reporting there were coalition reinforcements that arrived at different bases Thursday, which is consistent with what VOA has learned from a source.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Friday in a radio interview that talks between the U.S. military and its Turkish counterparts regarding the Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Syria will continue next week in an effort to reach an agreement both countries accept. Earlier this week, Bolton’s calls for the protection of the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as a pre-condition to a U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, causing the president to refuse to meet with the U.S. official.

The YPG is a crucial ally in Washington’s war against Islamic State, but Ankara considers it to be a terrorist group linked to an insurgency inside Turkey.

Bolton said in the interview that he, President Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo understood Turkey had committed “not to harm the Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS.”

“What we’re still pursuing in these military-to-military conversations are assurances and protocols and procedures so that everybody feels comfortable with how this is going to happen. And we’re hoping those discussions, which will continue next week, will produce results that are acceptable on both sides,” Bolton said.

Erdogan also warned that preparations were complete for a military operation against the YPG.

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“We will very soon mobilize to eliminate the terrorist organization in Syria,” he said.

“If there are other terrorists who would attempt to intervene in our intervention then it is our duty to eliminate them as well,” Erdogan added. Turkish forces have been massing for weeks along the Syrian border.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed earlier this week it had started doing military patrols in Manbij, tweeting out video, although sources say the Russians likely are not in Manbij proper. (VOA)