Assad raises prospect of clashes with USA forces in Syria

The sun sets over the Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli side of the border

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an interview with a Greek newspaper in Damascus, Syria in this handout released May 10, 2018.

The Syrian leader also said those military strikes raised the possibility of a response from Russian Federation, whose forces are helping the Syrian army.

"They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them", Assad said of USA forces. Iraq is no exception. "People don't accept foreigners in this region anymore".

In a tweet the United States leader condemned a "mindless chemical attack" in Syria that killed women and children, called Syrian President an "animal" and delivered a rare personal criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting the Damascus government.

The withdrawal of all non-Syrian troops from Syria's southwestern de-escalation zone should take place as soon as possible, Lavrov said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish group also viewed as terrorists by Turkey, saying he would not hesitate to use force to retake the third of the country they control.

"What you say is what you are". Mr Assad said that there were only Iranian officers in the country who work with the Syrian army.

Joint airstrikes on chemical weapons facilities were carried out by the US, UK and France following the alleged poison gas attack.

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President Donald Trump has said he is keen to pull the troops out as soon as possible, but the USA military has persuaded him to allow them to remain at least until a last pocket of Islamic State fighters is vanquished along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The disputed area is primarily to the east of the Euphrates River, along the northern border which Syria shares with Turkey. Iran-backed Shi'ite militias, often spearheaded by Lebanon's Hezbollah, have played a critical role fighting in support of Assad.

In the last week, he said several military convoys had left government-held parts of Deraa city heading north, saying he believed these to be Iran-backed forces being evacuated from the region. Israel also accused Iran of firing a salvo of rockets at Israel from the area earlier in the month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with German and French leaders next week to present his case against Iran's continued presence in Syria and ask for pressure to be put on Tehran.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said the talks with Russia - conducted with USA backing - were heading in the right direction, Hadashot reported, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Israel called on Monday for its arch-foe Iran to be denied any military presence in Syria, after Russian Federation said Damascus' forces alone should control Syrian territory near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

"Our air-defenses is much stronger than before" and the military is working to further strengthen those defenses, Assad said.

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