MOSCOW, Russia – The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said on Wednesday that the United States had not yet taken concrete steps to withdraw its troops from Syria.
“A few words about the intent of the Americans to withdraw their units from Syria. Despite the unequivocal statement by the US president in that regard, no specific action is being taken to implement this decision,” Zakharova told a news conference.
Since 2014, the United States and its allies have carried out an operation against the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist group in Syria, where they operate without the consent of the country’s official authorities, and in Iraq. In December, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria.
The Syrian government has repeatedly accused the US-led coalition of using white phosphorus and cluster bombs in parts of the country and causing heavy civilian casualties in urban perimeters. The coalition has confirmed heavy air strikes in the eastern Euphrates region but has denied that the bombs are causing mass civilian deaths and refutes the use of white phosphorus.
It was reported two weeks ago that the US had begun withdrawing non-essential equipment from Syria, although the military still remain in the country, an anonymous source told AFP news agency.
“We are not withdrawing troops at this stage,” the official said.
The decision to withdraw was criticized by some US officials and prompted two resignations: that of US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who announced that his views were no longer in line with those of Trump; and that of Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the US-led coalition in Syria.
Zakharova’s statements are a continuation of earlier statements made on January 11 where she said that it seems like the United States is withdrawing from Syria in search of grounds to stay.
Zakharova said he doubts the withdrawal of US troops from the Arab Republic because its strategy is unknown.
“I cannot share their confidence [when they say] that they are withdrawing, since we have never seen an official strategy,” said the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier this month.