Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claims US special forces are illegally operating in Syria. In an exclusive interview with euronews, he said the soldiers are there to support the Kurds. It comes amid reports of Russian mercenaries being killed by US special forces in Syria.
"They have been there consistently for two or three years - almost for the whole period that the Washington-led coalition has worked in Syria and all this time the US special forces and other units are in Syria on the ground, illegally, without any invitation from Damascus, or without any mandate of the UN Security Council", he said.
Lavrov said the US forces show no sign of leaving.
"It is clear that the US probably have such a strategy to settle in Syria forever, with its armed forces, just as they want to do in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite all promises made. And so when they settle forever in Syria, which they are already doing now, and despite all promises, they isolate a huge piece of the Syrian territory, in infringement of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, and create there some kind of quasi-local authority. And in every possible way try to create there an autonomous unit with the support of the Kurds."
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly insisted that combat operations in Syria are winding down. However, western agencies believe hundreds of Russian mercenaries are fighting there.