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Arab states call for withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria

The government in Damascus should re-establish the rule of law on all of Syria’s territory, ending the presence of foreign armed groups and terrorists, the foreign ministers of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq said on Monday after meeting in Amman.

Jordan hosted the meeting, the first of its kind since Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended in 2011. Prior to the multilateral meeting, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi to discuss refugees, border security and “water issues,” according to Amman.

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In a joint statement distributed by state news agencies, the five ministers called for “ending the presence of terrorist organizations” as well as “armed groups” on the territory of Syria, and “neutralizing their ability to threaten regional and international security.” They also pledged to “support Syria and its institutions to establish control over all of its territory and impose the rule of law.”

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq pledged to establish ties with the Syrian military and security institutions in order to “address security challenges.” The five ministers also called for stopping “foreign interference in Syrian domestic affairs.” Their joint declaration also called for setting up technical teams of experts that would follow up on the summit and implement practical measures to resolve the conflict in Syria.

The Amman meeting comes just weeks after Mekdad visited Saudi Arabia and received the kingdom’s endorsement for Syria’s territorial integrity. Currently, Turkish-backed militants control parts of northern Syria, while the northeast is under the control of US-backed Kurdish militias. Several hundred US soldiers are also in Syria, controlling most of the country’s oil wells. 

MIlitants backed by Saudi Arabia and the US launched an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011. With the help of Russia and Iran, the government in Damascus eventually prevailed over the collection of rebels, including terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). While Syria’s neighbors and regional powers have moved to improve relations with Damascus in recent months, the US has not changed its “regime change” policy.

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