Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says he wants the US military to extend its presence in Syria, despite American President Donald Trump’s declaration that US forces will withdraw from the war-torn Arab country in the near future.
“We believe American troops should stay for at least the mid-term, if not the long-term,” bin Salman said in a wide-ranging interview with the Time on Thursday, a few hours after Trump told a cheering crowd in Richfield, Ohio, that the American troops would soon be pulled out from Syria.
The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call positions held by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.
“We’re coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it (Daesh) now, very soon. Very soon, we’re coming out.”
The US currently has some 2,000 ground troops inside Syria in a declared aim of crushing the terror group, which is no longer in control of any urban center and is considered to be totally defeated in the Arab country.
Washington also maintains a military base in Syria’s eastern Dayr al-Zawr province, serving as a checkpoint through which it coordinates with anti-Damascus militia to launch purported attacks against the remaining Daesh terrorists holed up in a series of localities along the Euphrates River and a stretch of desert straddling the Iraq-Syria border.
“If you take those troops out from east Syria, you will lose that checkpoint,” bin Salman further said in the interview, which was published on Friday, adding, “And this corridor could create a lot of things in the region.”
The Syrian government and Russia, which has been engaged in an anti-terror campaign in the Arab country since September 2015 upon an official request from Damascus, have time and again called on the US to pull out its troops from the Arab country as Daesh is no longer considered a significant threat.
Syria has repeatedly blamed Riyadh of supporting anti-Damascus militants and of destabilizing the Arab country.
In late 2016, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry acknowledged that more than 1,500 of its citizens were fighting alongside anti-Damascus militant groups in Syria.