Jim Mattis warned Bashar al-Assad against US-supported Syrian Kurds

Vastavam web: US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis today warned President Bashar al-Assad against launching an offensive against US-supported Syrian Kurds, after the Syrian leader recently slammed them as “traitors.” There is currently a demarcation line between areas controlled by the US-led coalition battling jihadists with the Islamic State group, mainly in eastern Syria, and those controlled by Syria and its Russian allies in western Syria.

Assad had criticised the semi-autonomous Kurds in the past, but his mid-December comments were harsher than any since the Syrian unrest broke out in 2011.”When we talk about those referred to as ‘the Kurds’, they are in fact not just Kurds,” Assad said in remarks released by the Syrian presidency.”All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command… are traitors.”They accused the regime of freeing “terrorists” from its prisons so they could “shed the blood of Syrians of all stripes.”

In early December a Pentagon spokesman said that US forces would remain in Syria “as long as necessary” and on Friday Mattis added that US diplomats will soon be on the ground in eastern Syria to organize de-mining and reconstruction projects.Mattis did not say what legal basis will be used to send in US diplomats to Syria, as the US-led coalition is authorised under Article 51 of the United Nations charter only to battle IS jihadists.The Assad regime controls about 55 per cent of Syria after defeating rebels and jihadists with Russian support.