Syria demands withdrawal of U.S., Turkish troops, warns of 'countermeasures'

Syria’s foreign minister on Saturday demanded the withdrawal of all U.S. and Turkish troops, warning that the Syrian government had the right to take "countermeasures" if they remain.

Walid al-Moallem made the demand in an address at the U.N General Assembly Saturday.

There are about 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria to battle Islamic State militants. Turkey has forces in Syria targeting ISIS and Kurdish fighters.

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"The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria." al-Moallem told the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday. "Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and should withdraw immediately."

“If they refuse, we have the right to take any and all countermeasures authorized under international law,” he said.

Over more than eight years, Syria's devastating civil war has drawn numerous foreign militaries and thousands of foreign fighters battling for power.

Most of the country has returned to government control. But rebels and extremists still hold Idlib in the northwest, and the oil-rich northeast, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish groups.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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President Trump last year ordered the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria – but then agreed to let some forces remain to ensure ISIS militants cannot regroup, Reuters reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.