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Syrian diplomat demands Turkey, United States leave country

Syria's foreign minister Faisal Mekdad addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Photo by John Minchillo/UPI
Syria's foreign minister Faisal Mekdad addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Photo by John Minchillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on Monday criticized Turkey for assisting insurgents in the northwest portion of the country in the country's long-running civil war that goes back to the 2011 Arab Spring.

Mekdad made his comments at the 76th United Nations General Assembly. Russia has sided with the Syrian government in fighting the insurgents. Turkey, which has occupied portions of northern Syria since 2016, blames the Syrian government for the civil war.

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The United States has fought the Islamic State in Syria, once a home base for the terrorist group. Mekdad accused Turkey of war crimes and called on the United Nations to end its activities inside Syria.

The Syrian government repeatedly called insurgents and opposition government fighters "terrorists." Mekdad said Turkish and U.S. forces inside Syria are illegally there and continue to operate in their country. He said their troops should leave Syria "without any preconditions."

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"Sooner or later, [those who support] terrorists will come back to haunt them and innocent people will come to pay the price," Mekdad said. "That has exactly been the case in a number of countries."

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Mekdad said despite the fighting the Syrian refugees are welcomed to come home.

"We have made it clear that Syria's doors are wide open for the safe and voluntary return of all refugees to their country," Mekdad said. He said while Syria and its allies are trying to make humanitarian efforts to help its citizens, it accused those helping the opposition of creating crisis conditions.

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As far an end to the civil war, Mekdad said government forces will continue to fight until the country is "eradicated of terrorists. It is our non-negotiable right."

A United Nations report released Friday said 350,209 identified individuals have died in the Syrian conflict over the past 10 years. Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said one of 13 killed in the fight have been women and nearly another one in 13 have been children.

"The daily lives of the Syrian people remain scarred by unimaginable suffering," Bachelet said in Friday's statement. "They have endured a decade of conflict and face deepening economic crisis, as well as the impacts of COVID-19. Extensive destruction of infrastructure has significantly affected the realization of essential economic and social rights."

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