Putin condemns Turkey, U.S. over military presence in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized foreign forces that are in war-torn Syria without a U.N. mandate, in a rebuke of Turkey and the United States, Russian state-run TASS news agency reported on Tuesday.

Putin made the remarks during a visit by Syrian leader Bashar Assad in Moscow on Monday for the first time since 2015.

''Foreign armed forces, without the permission of the United Nations Organization, without your sanctions, are still present on separate territories of the country, which evidently contradicts the international law and prevents you from undertaking best efforts for the country’s consolidation,’’ the agency cited Putin as telling Assad.

"Terrorists sustained very serious damage, and the Syrian government, headed by you, controls 90 percent of the territories," Putin added. 

Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in Syria’s civil war. In rebel-held Idlib, on Turkey’s border, Ankara backs a number of rebel groups and maintains observation posts. Moscow supports the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, a continuation of an alliance that predates the fall of the Soviet Union.

Assad, for his part, thanked Putin for the humanitarian aid to Syria and for his efforts to halt the "spread of terrorism," according to TASS.

The Syrian president also described sanctions imposed by some nations on Syria as being "anti human" and "illegitimate," the agency said.

Last year, Washington tightened sanctions against Syria in an effort at forcing Assad to stop the war and agree to a political solution.

The U.S. maintains several hundred troops in Syria. Former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019 ordered a withdrawal of American forces from the north of the country.

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