President Bashar Assad says all foreign troops deployed to his country without the approval of the Syrian government are invaders, apparently referring to US and Turkish forces.
Assad made the remark in an interview with China’s PHOENIX TV, a script of which was released by Syria’s official SANA news agency on Saturday.
Asked whether Damascus had given the green light for the recent deployment of American forces in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, he replied, "No, no, we didn’t.”
"Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one,” Assad said.
"And we don’t think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS (Daesh)? The Americans lost nearly every war,” he added.
The US "didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions,” he added.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the US had deployed a small number of combat forces in and around Manbij in a bid to prevent clashes between the Turkish- and US-backed forces operating in the area.
The deployment was the first of its kind by the US in Manbij. American forces have carried out training and advising missions in the city before.
Turkey, too, has deployed forces to Syria in a violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad stressed that the solution to the Syrian conflict had to be focused on two parallel ways, namely dialog and the fight against terrorism, which he said the government is responsible for.
He further said that Syrian people had to decide about the country’s future.
Referring to the people of Syria, he said, "They’re going to have referendum about what they want.” He did not explain.
Asked about the situation in Raqqah, where Daesh terrorists have amassed, the Syrian leader said government forces had come "very close” to the city.
Daesh has declared Raqqah its so-called headquarters in Syria, and Syrian government forces have been planning to liberate the city.
"Yesterday, our troops reached the Euphrates River, which is very close to Raqqah City…, so it’s going to be a priority for us, but that doesn’t mean the other cities are not priority,” he said.
Moreover, Assad emphasized that he had not seen "anything concrete yet” from US President Donald Trump, who has used harsh rhetoric about the fight on Daesh.
The counter-terrorism fight "cannot be from the air, it should be in cooperation with the troops on the ground, that’s why the Russians succeeded,” he said, stressing that Moscow had supported the Syrian army in the push against Daesh and prevented its expansion.