US must leave the area it controls in Southern Syria — Lavrov

US troops must immediately shut down their zone of control in Southern Syria in the area of Al-Tanf, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, speaking at Valdai Club conference on Middle East in Moscow.

The area on Syria’s border with Jordan, which Washington designated as a “de-confliction zone” under its protection, hosts the Rukban refugee camp, Lavrov said on Monday. Russia believes the camp to be a recruiting ground for militant groups and blames the US for restricting humanitarian access to it.

“This zone must be shut down immediately. And deliveries of humanitarian aid must be allowed into the camp,” the minister said.

Lavrov added that efforts aimed at reducing violence in south-western Syria – an area that Russia designated as a “de-escalation zone,” which is located near Israel’s border some 250km from the US-controlled zone – now must focus on pushing all non-Syrian troops out of that region.

“We negotiated the creation of this zone with Jordan and the US and it’s not a secret that our Israeli colleagues were informed about what we discussed,” he said. Israel accuses Iran of using proxy forces to seize control of parts of southern Syria, and has threatened to use military force to reverse the situation.

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