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    US Troops Shouldn't Remain in Syria Without Damascus' Approval - Moscow

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    SOCHI (Sputnik) - US troops should not further stay in Syria without approval from Damascus as this may negatively affect the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress, Russian Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said Saturday.

    "Our position is clear, the US troops should not further stay on the territory of a sovereign state without approval from its government. It may negatively affect the congress. Moreover, we expect that the United States, as a permanent member of [UN] Security Council, will send its representative to the Sochi forum in the status of observer," Lavrentyev told reporters.

    The diplomat stated that the situation directly on the ground in some areas of Syria remains quite tense, but underlined that it should not in any way affect the results of the Congress.

    READ MORE: US Arms Supplies to Loyal Groups in Syria Led to Turkish Op — Russian MoD

    "Most importantly, I repeat, this is a demonstration by the Syrians of the desire to achieve peace, to observe the ceasefire regime and not only in de-escalation zones, but practically throughout Syria," he said. 

    A similar stance was expressed by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi regarding the Turkish advance in Afrin. The minister explained Iran's position on the issue, as a guarantor of the peace settlement in Syria.

    "The developments on the Syrian territory, for sure, might influence the congress in a negative or positive way. We wish that our guarantors take this into the account and create a favorable atmosphere. Any military action that might have a negative or a positive impact on the Sochi congress should be properly regulated by the guarantors. We hope that such an operation will not take place," Ansari said.

    The statements were made after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the de-facto launch of a ground operation against Kurdish militias in the Syrian region of Afrin by the Turkish forces.

    READ MORE: Turkish Jets, Free Syrian Army Launch Offensive on Kurdish-Held Afrin

    Syrian National Dialogue Congress

    Lavrentyev went on by speaking about the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress, set to take place on January 29-30 in Russian resort city of Sochi.

    "I think the meeting was successful, we have managed to agree on the list of participants of the forum… the participants of the congress will receive the invitations," Lavrentyev told reporters after consultations with Iranian and Turkish representatives regarding the organization of the Congress.

    He stated that Moscow expected participation of the US side in the congress in Sochi as observers.

    "We would like very much that the UN representatives be at the Sochi forum at the highest level. We hope that the UN secretary general will send his Special Envoy [for Syria] Staffan de Mistura here, who will participate actively in the opening of the forum," Lavrentyev told reporters after consultations with Iranian and Turkish representatives regarding the organization of the congress.

    Tags:
    military operation in Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Syria, United States, Russia
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