Non-Syrian Troops Must Depart De-Escalation Zone as Soon as Possible: Lavrov

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem

The Syrian president said his government had "opened doors to negotiation" with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish group that controls parts of northern Syria. "Because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country, they don't like to be puppets to any foreigners", he said in English.

Mr Trump called the Syrian president an animal after a poison gas attack on Eastern Ghouta's Douma, a rebel-held town near Damascus, in April.

Asked about Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz's threat to "liquidate" Assad and "topple" his government, the Syrian head of state said such comments are merely aimed at creating "panic".

The Syrian army has completed preparations for an imminent offensive against rebel-held areas in southwestern Syria, a non-Syrian commander in a military alliance that backs Damascus said on Tuesday, raising the prospect of a major new escalation.

Martin Indyk, former USA ambassador to Israel and former special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, said on Twitter Assad appeared to be offering to "get the Iranians to pull back from Golan" Heights, if Israel accepts it as Syrian. If not, we're going to resort to ... liberating those areas by force.

Russian Federation has been supporting Assad, Syrian leader since 2000, militarily in his seven year-long civil war against rebels attempting to overthrow him.

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Before taking office in January 2017, Trump both blamed former President Barack Obama for not going after Assad following an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2013, and warned him not to get further embroiled in the Syrian conflict.

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

Missiles fire is seen over Damascus on May 10 as Israel struck targets in Syria. It averts possible direct confrontation between Iran and Israel in Syria, where tensions have heightened between the foes. Syria's air defenses were much stronger than before, thanks to Russian Federation, he added.

Forces loyal to Assad, who is backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and the Syrian Kurds have clashed sporadically over the eastern oil province of Deir el-Zour. Israel also accused Iran of firing a salvo of rockets at Israel from the area earlier in the month.

"The most important fact regarding this issue, is that we do not have Iranian troops". Syria never authorized a U.S. military presence in their country, but the Pentagon has indicated they intend to keep troops there over the long-term.

"We should discuss today everything concerning work on the border in the southern de-escalation zone where we have an agreement with Jordan and the United States", he told his counterpart.

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