Syria demands withdrawal of all foreign forces
Syria is demanding the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces, saying it reserves the right to take action if they remain.
"The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria." Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday. "Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and should withdraw immediately."
Over more than eight years, Syria's devastating civil war has drawn numerous foreign militaries and thousands of foreign fighters battling for power.
Most of the country has returned to government control. But rebels and extremists still hold Idlib in the northwest, and the oil-rich northeast, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish groups.
The Holy See is urging the international community to give special attention to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen to "put an end to the suffering of so many people."
In a wide-ranging speech that he, like many speakers, dedicated to the theme of multilateralism, Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on also highlighted the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians as "an area of perennial concern."
The U.N. General Assembly is scheduled to hear from Syria, which has been wracked by eight years of war, later Saturday.
Parolin also highlighted the dire political and economic situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and spoke up for the protection of the Amazon, which has been ravaged by a surge of fires.
Parolin also urged the world to do more to protect women and children who have been raped and victimized in wars. He did not mention the clergy sex-abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church.
Syria, divided, devastated and now in its ninth year of war, is expected to plead its case before world leaders at the United Nations. Leaders from Cuba and Mexico also will address the General Assembly later Saturday.
Syria's plight remains one of the world body's thorniest issues. But now that most of the country has returned to government control, Syrians worry the world has accepted the idea of President Bashar Assad ruling them.
Only the opposition-held bastion of Idlib in the northwest, and the oil-rich northeast, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish groups, elude Assad's grasp.
Earlier this week, the U.N. secretary-general announced that a long-awaited committee that would draft a new Syrian constitution has been formed. The U.N. hopes that will put the war-ravaged country on track for a political solution.