Syrian FM says no foreign troops on the ground

Syria peace talks to start in Geneva on May 16 UN

"We do not accept a role for the United Nations or worldwide forces to monitor the agreement", he told reporters in Damascus. He gave no further details.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting Syrian opposition groups striving to overthrow the president.

Russia, with backing from Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, brokered the deal for establishing de-escalation zones in mainly militant-held areas of Syria during ceasefire talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana last week. The deal took effect at midnight on Friday.

Meanwhile on Monday, the evacuation of fighters and their families from the eastern outskirts of Damascus began, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Rebel officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Moualem's comments on Monday.

Muallem stressed that militant groups involved in the de-escalation plan must help clear areas they control of Takfiri terror groups, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham that was formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and Russia, Turkey and Iran, as the deal's guarantors, must help them do this.

He says armed Syrian opposition groups must separate themselves from extremist groups such as al-Qaida Syria branch.

"It is the duty of the groups which signed the ceasefire agreement to expel Nusra from these zones until the areas really become de-escalated".




We will continue the process of national reconciliation and the Government will welcome anyone who lay down the arms and surrenders, and reaffirmed negotiations in that direction in Damascus suburbs of Barzeh, Qaboun and Tishreen, and in the Palestinian Yarmuk camp.

Moualem said separate peace talks under United Nations auspices in Geneva were not progressing. The deal says those areas would be bordered by "security zones" with checkpoints and observation posts "ensured by the forces of the guarantors by consensus", but that "third-party" monitors could also be deployed.

A spokesman for the United Nations secretary general's special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, declined to comment on those remarks.

Moualem also addressed what he described as an apparent change of attitude towards Syria by the U.S. administration.

Russian Federation meanwhile said it had tabled a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council to back up its plan.

Muallem also said that Damascus considered the deployment of Jordanian forces in southern Syria an act of aggression, but added that Syria was not about to confront Jordan.

Asked about USA backing for Kurdish groups fighting Islamic State in northeast Syria, he said that what Syrian Kurds were doing against the jihadist group was "legitimate" at this stage and fell within the framework of preserving Syrian unity. It does not include territory where clashes are raging against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria's center, north and east. ISIL is coming under simultaneous attack by Syrian government troops as well as a US -backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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