Assad warns to use force if SDF refuses to withdraw

<p style="text-align: left;">Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that he would not hesitate to use force to retake the third of the country they control.

&ldquo;The only problem left in Syria is the SDF,&rdquo; Assad told Russia Today in an interview aired on Thursday.

&ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to deal with it by two options,&rdquo; he said.

&ldquo;The first one: we started now opening doors for negotiations. Because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country, they don&rsquo;t like to be puppets to any foreigners,&rdquo; Assad said in English.

&ldquo;We have one option, to live with each other as Syrians. If not, we&rsquo;re going to resort... to liberating those areas by force.&rdquo;

The SDF in oil-rich northeastern Syria have long pushed for increased autonomy in their heartland but Damascus has insisted it intends to reassert its authority over the entire country.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s our land, it&rsquo;s our right and it&rsquo;s our duty to liberate it,&rdquo; Assad said. &ldquo;The Americans should leave. Somehow they&rsquo;re going to leave.&rdquo;

An SDF spokesman told AFP the group&rsquo;s military command was aware of the interview but had no immediate comment.

&ldquo;We were close to have direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces,&rdquo; Assad said.

&ldquo;Fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership.&rdquo;

Reporter&rsquo;s code: 50101

News Code 4650

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