As pressure mounts on President Donald Trump to terminate his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, the country’s foreign minister is calling for an immediate withdrawal of American forces.
“If you are going to leave, we will drive you out of our country,” Walid al-Moallem told the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published Tuesday.
“We’re going to need time for our armed forces to replace what you’ve left behind.”
A foreign ministry spokesman said that Iran, which has sent advisers and troops to Syria, would also need time to fill the role left behind by the United States.
The statement comes as the Syrian opposition voiced growing frustration with the Trump administration over what it calls a premature withdrawal from the region.
The spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition umbrella group, called Trump’s decision a “humiliation” and said the Trump administration lacked even the “minimum ability to deal with Syria’s complex conditions.”
“We will not accept the President’s … announcement and it will be fulfilled to the letter,” Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz told reporters.
Foreigners, the spokesman said, would no longer be welcome in Syria.
“Foreigners will not have a foothold in Syria,” he said.
Egypt on Tuesday became the most recent foreign country to announce a possible departure from Syria amid questions over whether Trump’s pullout will lead to the collapse of the Syrian government’s territorial control.
“Egypt reserves the right to withdraw its diplomatic staff from Damascus as soon as it is safe to do so,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.