Middle East

Syrian FM says Trump administration ‘lies’ about withdrawing

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s foreign minister said Thursday that the Trump administration “lies” all the time about withdrawing its troops from the country, and that its decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights increases America’s isolation, “even among its closest allies.”

Walid al-Moallem pledged to recover “every inch” of Syria’s territory, including the Golan, saying all options were on the table.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981, a move that was never international recognized. U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the annexation last month in a move that has been condemned by the Arab League and U.N. Security Council countries.

“Trump’s attempts to give Israel sovereignty over the Golan have only one effect … which is to increase America’s isolation even from its closest allies,” al-Moallem said.

He spoke at a joint press conference in Damascus with Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who lauded what he described as Syria’s victory over “terrorism” in the country’s eight-year war and said both countries were victims of a U.S. conspiracy.

Venezuela’s government has traditionally had warm relations with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. Arreaza met with Assad later Thursday, after which he said both Syria and Venezuela “face the same enemy and resist with the same popular will.”

“The two Syrian and Venezuelan peoples fight against U.S. conspiracies and imperialism and the two will emerge victorious,” Arreaza said. He said that there is a consensus in Latin America on rejecting the militarization of the crisis in Venezuela, adding that his country has a military cooperation agreement with Russia which supplies it with defensive, not offensive, weapons.

He said the government still hopes to resolve Venezuela’s crisis through dialogue. The country has been rocked by protests and social unrest fueled by a severe economic crisis.

Al-Moallem, at the press conference, also vowed to liberate the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

“Our patience has its limits. We must liberate this land,” he said, accusing Turkey of repeatedly violating a cease-fire agreement there.

He accused the Trump administration of going back and forth and lying about its intention to withdraw the 2,500 troops the U.S. maintains in northern Syria. “It is clear for everyone that this administration lies,” he said.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, April 4, 2019. Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration “lies” all the time about withdrawing its troops from the country. Al-Moallem also said Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights only serves to increase America’s isolation in the world “even among its closest allies.” (SANA via AP)


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