The only opportunity for the US to retain its presence in Syria is to start cooperating with Moscow and Damascus in their efforts to assist the return of refugees and temporarily displaced people to their homes, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman stated.
"It is simply impossible for the commander of US forces in the Middle East not to know these major changes in the situation in Syria. At the same time, there are no legal grounds for further operations by American servicemen in Syria," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stated.
Konashenkov commented on the statements of the US Force Commander in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, who earlier expressed reservations about the impossibility of cooperation with Russia on the return of refugees to Syria because of its "continued support of President Assad."
"With his statements, General Votel not only discredited the official position of his commander-in-chief [President Donald Trump], but also exacerbated the illegality of the military presence of American servicemen in Syria in line with international and US law," the spokesman stressed.
There are some 5,000 troops stationed in over 20 US military bases in northern Syria, in areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of predominantly Kurdish militias, including the YPG People's Protection Units.