China’s special envoy for Syria says the United States’ pretext for extending its military presence in the Arab country, namely to protect Syrian oil fields, is untenable.
“Who have given the Americans the right to do this? And, at whose invitation is the US protecting Syria’s oil fields?” Xie Xiaoyan said at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.
“Let’s think the other way around: will the US allow Syria to send troops to US territory to protect oil fields there?” he said.
In late October, Washington reversed an earlier decision to pull out all of its troops from northeastern Syria, announcing the deployment of about 500 soldiers to the oil fields controlled by Kurdish forces in the Arab country.
The US claimed that the move was aimed at protecting the fields and facilities from possible attacks by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. That claim came even as US President Donald Trump had earlier suggested that Washington sought economic interests in controlling the oilfields.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper then threatened that the US forces deployed to the oil fields would use “military force” against any party that might seek to challenge control of the sites, even if it were Syrian government forces or their Russian allies.
Syria, which has not authorized American military presence in its territory, has said the US is “plundering” the country’s oil.
Xie, the Chinese envoy for Syria, said he was in Moscow for a second time this year to continue consultations with the Russian side on the Syrian issue.
He said a political settlement was the sole way to resolve the Syrian crisis, calling on all parties involved to unite their efforts to this end.
“We hope that all parties and players involved in the Syrian crisis will join hands and put their efforts together, try to maintain the momentum of the political settlement,” he said.
“The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected and upheld. The future of Syria must be left in the hands of the Syrian people. Let them independently decide their own future,” he said.
The Chinese envoy said, however, that there were still uncertainties in north Syria and the threat of terrorism remained, calling for “immediate attention” by the international community as displaced Syrians gradually return to their homes and the issue of Syria’s reconstruction is back on the agenda.
He said China and Russia could play a role together in swiftly finding a lasting solution to the Syrian crisis, he said.
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