23:27 GMT +319 October 2019
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    In this Nov. 7, 2018, photo released by the U.S. Army, U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria

    Russia Urges US, EU Countries to Withdraw Forces From Syria

    © AP Photo / U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zoe Garbarino
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia is urging the United States and European countries to withdraw forces from Syria, but can see the increase in their military presence there instead, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said Friday.

    "We are always calling on the United States and other — European — countries, whose troops are also illegally in Syria, to leave this sovereign state. Nevertheless, they are still justifying it by the need to fight Daesh* and other terrorist groups", Lavrentyev said at a press conference.

    The Russian presidential envoy stressed that these countries were in reality pursuing their own agenda.

    "So far we have not been able to convince them to withdraw forces. Despite the words of [US President Donald] Trump that US forces would be pulled out, we can see, on the contrary, the increase in these forces, partly because of the presence of private military companies", the envoy said.

    The number of US troops in Syria has been declining since US President Donald Trump claimed victory over the jihadists in December, promising to withdraw at least 2,000 troops from the country in the near future.

    US forces have been operating in Syria as part of an international coalition to fight the Daesh terrorist organisation for about four years without the permission of either Damascus or the UN Security Council.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia

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    Alexander Lavrentyev, United States, Syria, Russia
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