BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian government said on Thursday that the US military presence in Syria represented an "aggression" against Syrian sovereignty and promised to free the country from any "illegitimate" foreign presence.
The statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry was a response to a speech by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday in which he said US forces would remain in parts of Syria indefinitely.
"The US military presence in Syrian territory is illegitimate and represents a flagrant violation of international law and an aggression against national sovereignty," the statement said.
Syria will continue its "relentless war against terrorist movements under their different names until every inch of Syrian soil has been cleared" and will work with "the same determination" to free Syria from any "illegitimate foreign presence".
Tillerson noted an open military presence as part of a broader strategy to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and reduce the influence of Iran.
The United States has about 2,000 military personnel in Syria, deployed as part of the campaign of the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State. The statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the government did not need US dollars "stained with the blood of the Syrians."
Report by Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Kevin Liffey