Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has upped the ante and warned Kurdish forces that are trained and equipped by the United States that he wouldn’t hesitate to use force to retake the roughly one-third of the country they currently control.

Assad also tried to sound ominous and said in an interview with Russian television that the U.S should learn the lessons of Iraq and remove their troops from Syria.

“The only problem left in Syria is the SDF,” Assad said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which spearheaded battles against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

“We’re going to deal with it by two options: the first one we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them [SDF] are Syrians. Supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners,” Assad said.

“If not, we’re going to resort … to liberating those areas by force. It’s our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it, and the Americans should leave. Somehow they’re going to leave,” he added.

“They came to Iraq with no legal basis and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region any more.”

Assad said a confrontation between Russia and US forces over Syria had been narrowly avoided.

“We were close to having direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces,” he said. “Fortunately it has been avoided – not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership.”

Assad in his comments about foreigners neglected to mention the scores of Iranian troops that have been spoiling to start a fight with Israel and have been being hammered …on Syrian soil nor the attack by Syrian and Russian “contractors” on a US base that resulted in a stinging defeat at the hands of the US-backed Kurds.

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