BEIRUT — The Latest on the Syria conflict (all times local):
Syria has called on the United States to withdraw its forces from the country now that the fight against the Islamic State group is nearly over.
The Foreign Ministry statement, carried by state-run media Tuesday, says the presence of the troops will not force a political solution to the conflict.
The comments came a day after U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said “we are not going to just walk away right now” before the U.N-backed political process yields results.
U.S troops and advisers are supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against Islamic State militants in northern and eastern Syria. Kurdish officials want the U.S. troops to remain in the country to help prevent clashes with pro-government forces, which are also battling IS.
U.S. officials say they are maintaining contacts with their Russian counterparts to ensure no friction occurs between the two forces. Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad.
A Syrian war monitoring group says the death toll from airstrikes on a market in northern Syria the previous day has climbed to 61.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says there were six women, five children, and three police officers among those killed in the three strikes on Monday on the market in the opposition-held town of Atareb. The Observatory’s director, Rami Abdurrahman, says the rest were male civilians.
Yasser Hmeish, a clinician at the scene, says rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Tuesday morning.
The Observatory said it couldn’t determine whether Russia or the Syrian government was behind the attack. The opposition Syrian National Coalition accused Russia, Syrian President Bashar Assad’ chief military backer.