Assad says U.S. will leave Syria, vows to retake SDF-held areas

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad said he would recover areas of Syria held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and that U.S. forces should learn the lesson of Iraq and leave the country.

Syria’s President Bashar al Assad attends an interview with a Greek newspaper in Damascus, Syria in this handout released May 10, 2018. SANA/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

In an interview with Russia Today, Assad also said the government had “started now opening doors for negotiations” with the SDF, a Kurdish dominated militia alliance that controls parts of northern and eastern Syria where U.S. forces are stationed.

“This is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to … liberating those areas by force,” he said, adding “the Americans should leave, somehow they’re going to leave”.

Responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s description of him as “Animal Assad”, the Syrian leader said: “What you say is what you are”.

Writing by Tom Perry; editing by John Stonestreet

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