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U.S. military forces are “invaders” in Syria because they were not invited into the country, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Saturday.

Assad told Chinese TV station Phoenix that he had not seen any concrete effort by President Trump to fight Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in the country, though there was still room for potential cooperation.

A U.S.-led coalition has been fighting the ISIS in Syria since 2014. And while U.S. troops are deployed in the country, they are not directly involved in the fighting.

{mosads}But Assad said that “any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation … are invaders,” according to Reuters.

During his presidential campaign, Trump frequently asserted that he would defeat ISIS, who claims Raqqa, Syria, as its de facto capital city.

He has also expressed a willingness to cooperate with Russia in the region to take out the extremist group. Russia is a staunch backer of Assad, who has clung to power through a bitter and ongoing civil war, while the U.S. has supported pro-democracy forces working to oust the president.

Assad called Trump’s proposed focus on ISIS “promising,” but said he hasn’t “seen anything concrete yet regarding this rhetoric.”


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