UPDATE 1-Syria's Assad says Kurdish controlled northeast Syria must return to state authority

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday that his government’s ultimate goal was to restore state authority over Kurdish controlled areas in northeast Syria after an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal but said this would happen gradually. In a state television interview Assad also said that a deal between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin to drive out the Kurdish-led YPG militia from a 30 km (19 mile) “safe zone” along the border was a “positive” step that would help Damascus achieve its goal.

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