Syria's Ja'afari says US action on Raqqa would be illegitimate

By REUTERS
March 24, 2017 18:44
1 minute read.
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GENEVA - A US- or Turkish-backed attack on Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa would be illegitimate unless coordinated with President Bashar al-Assad's government, the Syrian chief negotiator at peace talks in Geneva said on Friday.

"Any military presence on our territory without the approval of the Syrian government is an illegitimate presence," Bashar al-Ja'afari told reporters after meeting UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday the battle to recapture Raqqa would restart in the coming days.

Ja'afari said nobody could claim to be fighting Islamic State without coordinating with Iraq and Syria.

"Those who are truly fighting Daesh (Islamic State) are the Syrian Arab army with the help of our allies from Russia and Iran.

"Direct US military intervention in Syrian territory as well as arming factions in Syria and encouraging them to challenge the authority of the state does not serve the fight against terrorism," he said.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have reached the entrance to the Tabqa dam where they are clashing with Islamic State, Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, an SDF spokeswoman, said on Friday.

UN Syria humanitarian advisor Jan Egeland told Reuters on Thursday there were contingency plans for the civilian population of Raqqa.

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