(Photo Credit: AFP)
The Syrian Foreign Ministry on 5 March strongly condemned the illegal visit of US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to an undisclosed base in Syria’s northeast a day earlier.
The foreign ministry stressed that the visit is a flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity.
A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said, “Syria strongly condemns the illegal visit of the US Chief of Staff to an illegal US military base in northeastern Syria, and affirms that it is a flagrant violation of the sovereignty, the sanctity of its lands and unity,” according to RT.
“Syria calls on the US administration to immediately stop its systematic and continuous violations of international law and stop its support for separatist armed militias … and Syria affirms that these US practices will not deviate it from its approach to combating terrorism and preserving its sovereignty, security, and stability,” the source added.
The top US general visited Syria on Saturday allegedly to assess efforts to prevent a resurgence of ISIS and to review safeguards for US forces against attacks, including from drones flown by Iran-backed militias, Reuters reported.
Some 1,000 American troops continue to support allied Arab and Kurdish militias from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the region.
According to Al-Monitor, Milley’s visit to Syria signals the Biden administration’s seriousness about keeping troops in the country in support of the SDF.
The visit happened shortly after US representative Matt Gaetz introduced legislation to end the US occupation of Syria, saying, “Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Syria,” adding, “The United States is currently not in a war with or against Syria, so why are we conducting dangerous military operations there?”
The official reason for the US to remain in Syria and fight ISIS is also questioned by government officials, who claim that the US military is supporting ISIS and using the presence of the armed group as a pretext for maintaining its occupation and looting Syrian oil along with other valuable resources.
According to eyewitness reports from the countryside of Al-Yarubiyah in the Hasakah governorate, on 27 February, US troops transported at least 34 tankers filled with stolen Syrian oil through the illegal Al-Mahmoudiya border crossing to their bases in Iraq.
In August of last year, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the losses incurred by the country’s oil and gas sector as a result of US actions amounted to $107 billion since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.