Assad: Only Syrian army can protect groups in northern Syria

February 17, 2019 - 8:39 am

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad says only the Syrian army can protect groups in northern Syria.

In a speech in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday, he appeared to be referring to U.S.-allied Kurdish groups, which fear a Turkish assault once American troops withdraw from northeastern Syria.

Assad said any foreign troops in Syria will be dealt with as occupation forces.

He did not specifically mention the planned withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from northern Syria but said "no one should bet on protection from the Americans." He suggested that the Syrian army will return to the area after the American troop pullout.

"Every inch of Syria will be liberated, and any intruder is an enemy," he said.

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