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Russia's Shoigu, Israel's Lieberman discuss Syrian de-escalation zone

Russia's Shoigu, Israel's Lieberman discuss Syrian de-escalation zone

Russia's Shoigu, Israel's Lieberman discuss Syrian de-escalation zone

Trump said in April he wanted to withdraw American troops from Syria relatively soon, but also voiced a desire to leave a "strong and lasting footprint".

He said his regime "started now opening doors for negotiations" with them but "this is the first option. Because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country, they don't like to be puppets to any foreigners", Assad said in English.

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".

Mr Assad said the U.S. must learn the lesson of Iraq and leave the country.

Behind Assad's evasions and bluster lies the unlovely truth that Russian and Iranian intervention appears to have secured his position in Damascus after years of bloody civil war.

The U.S. joined the United Kingdom and France in airstrikes against Syria last month, following a reported chemical attack on civilians.

'Fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership'.

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Lieberman's Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, said on Thursday the two need to discuss the situation in southwestern Syria, along its border with Israel.

"We were close to have direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces", Assad said.

In northern Syria, Turkish and United States officials last week agreed on a "roadmap" for further cooperation to ensure the security of a Kurdish-held city which became a major headache between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, according to a joint statement.

According to him, Israel and Russian Federation have been intensively discussing the issue of Iran's military presence in Syria, which "is aimed against Israel". Assad told the interviewer he had no nickname for Trump because "This is not my language, so, I can not use similar language. It represents him, and I think there is a well-known principle, that what you say is what you are".

In an interview with pro-Putin news channel Russia Today, the Syrian dictator also claimed he will recover areas held by USA -backed militia "within a year".

Assad also sought in his interview to minimize the extent of Iran's presence in Syria. Israel has warned that it will not tolerate having Iranian advisers and the Shiite militias they support move closer to its borders, making southern Syria the likely next flash point of the war.

He said that Syria's air defences were now much stronger than before thanks to Russian Federation. Trump has also blamed his predecessor for supporting Syrian rebels trying to oust Assad after a 2011 uprising, saying in 2015 that "Assad may be bad, but we have absolutely no idea who these people are that we're arming".

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