Syrian children play at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Jarablus, northern Syria, Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened to attack a region held by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, saying in an interview broadcast on Russia Today channel Thursday that American troops should leave the country.Forces loyal to Assad and the Syrian Kurds have clashed sporadically over the eastern oil province of Deir al-Zor.The Syrian president is also under pressure from Israel over growing Iranian influence in Syria.In the TV interview, Assad maintained there are no Iranian troops in Syria, only Iranian officers advising the Syrian army. Assad said Israeli strikes destroyed a "big part" of Syrian air defenses, but added they have been rebuilt, "stronger than before, thanks to Russian support".Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government won't accept a permanent Iranian presence anywhere in Syria.The Observatory said Thursday that Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters are preparing to withdraw from southern Syria, namely the regions of Deraa and Qunaitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.A Syria-based official with the Iran-led axis of resistance, however, denied the report saying it is "untrue".
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