Washington is determined to maintain its military presence in Syria although combat operations have largely been completed, Director of the Middle and Near East Center at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies RISI, Vladimir Fitin said on Tuesday.

“The key combat operations have been by and large wrapped up,” he pointed out. “But the Americans wish to retain their military presence in Syria. Just yesterday US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US armed forces would not leave that country until a settlement was achieved in Geneva.”

Fitin believes that at present Syria is “mosaic-like and sporadic outbreaks of violence are inevitable there.”

“First and foremost, there are conflicts in the east of the country, the area of Syria’s main oil and gas fields. It is a scene of continuing struggle between the Syrian authorities, the Kurds and Sunni tribes and (they) have historically lived on this land and would like to get their share of the oil and gas revenues. Also, the Kurds would like to have a certain degree of autonomy in the North of the country.”

“As far as the risk of a global conflict is concerned, it will not happen, because both Russia and the United States will seek to prevent it,” Fitin said.