United States forces in Syria are 'invaders', says Assad

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev left and President Vladimir Putin walk after the president delivered his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow Russia Thursday Dec. 1 2016

That would mark a sea-change since two years ago when the U.S. was still insisting Assad should leave power and the Central Intelligence Agency was reportedly backing Syrian rebels in Jordan and Turkey.

The newly deployed USA troops have been sent to the region to help "whoever is going to take Raqqa", a group that has yet to be determined, the official said. Turkey would now have to go through the Syrians and Russians to get at the Kurds.

Friday's military statement says that since the Turkish operation started in August, the joint Turkish and Syrian opposition forces killed as many as 2,647 IS militants and 425 Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria. Its forces began the operation to encircle Raqqa in November.

Asked about a deployment of U.S forces near the northern city of Manbij, Syrian President Assad said: "Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation. are invaders".

Turkey's concerns will not be laid to rest by Kurdish representatives talking about their plan to seize Raqqa and use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Damascus. The Kurdish armed forces in Syria, called the People's Protection Units (YPG), are viewed as terrorists by Turkey which asserts they are connected to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Capturing al-Bab last month met both those aims.

Syria's president stressed that government troops are now very close to Raqqa, Islamic State's stronghold some 100 kilometers from Manbij.

"Turkey has always set the Euphrates as a red line", Noah Bonsey, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, said in a telephone interview. We must demand that the USA get its hands off Syria, respect Syrian sovereignty, and allow for a real resolution to this six year war.

The latest deployment widens America's footprint on a highly toxic battlefield, with US credibility and prestige on the line.

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The question that USA policy-makers have to ask is after all this investment in eastern Syria, including airfields and allying closely with the Kurds, is what happens when ISIS is defeated. To fight ISIS? The Americans lost almost every war. He suggested Turkey has no reason to be in the Manbij area.

The Turks had threatened to attack Manbij which is being held by U.S. allies, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. Kurdish officials said Turkish advances continued even despite the buffer zone.

Most recently, Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit left their ships to set up an outpost from which they could fire artillery to support Syrian forces fighting to oust militants from the Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called "capital" of the Islamic State. Careful coordination will be required to keep USA and Russian forces from accidentally firing on each other. "In all the wars the Americans took part in, their forces' presence has some prestige, status, and confrontations are avoided".

"There is no final decision on by whom and how the offensive on Raqqa will be carried out". To fight ISIS (Daesh)?

He says Syrian government troops are now pushing further east of Palmyra after recapturing it from IS last week.

He said that in a situation like the fight for Raqqa, where so many different groups are involved, good communications is essential. "There is a lot that can go wrong".

Turkey has a number of ways it could disrupt a Raqqa campaign, he said.

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