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Russian FM slams US efforts to create ‘alternative authority’ in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has lashed out at the US for undermining the territorial integrity of Syria through efforts to form “alternative bodies of authority” across the Middle Eastern country.

According to Press TV, Lavrov said in a Friday news conference at the UN headquarters in New York “The US [is] trying to form… alternative bodies of authority on vast… parts of the Syrian territory.”

“That is a fact and that does contradict their own obligations… to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria,” he added.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said US troops would stay in Syria for the foreseeable future, adding that the US would not fund the reconstruction of any part of Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is in power.

Tillerson elaborated on a US plan to push for a faster political transition in the country by discouraging economic relationships between Damascus and any other country.

Syria strongly condemned the US plan to maintain its military presence in the country as interference in its internal affairs and a blatant violation of international law.

According to figures the Pentagon released in December, there are at least 2,000 US troops in Syria as well as a diplomatic presence in cities such as Kobani.

Lavrov also rejected US allegations that China and Russia were undermining efforts to enhance the international security, describing the strategy as “confrontational.”

“It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialogue, instead of using the basis of international law, the US is indeed striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts,” Lavrov said.

He made the remarks in reaction to the latest US national defense strategy released by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday which shifted focus from the country’s so-called campaign against terror to “competition” with great powers.

Mattis claimed that Russia and China seek to “create a world consistent with their authoritarian models.”

The Russian foreign minister described the strategy as the Pentagon’s campaign for “additional financial resources.”

Lavrov expressed Russia’s preparedness “for dialogue” over military doctrines and expressed confidence that many US military officials understand the need for “strategic stability” which involves cooperation between Moscow and Washington.