Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria has said the United States has “lost its cards” in Syria, and called on America to leave the country in an interview with Russia Today.

“The Americans should leave. Somehow, they’re going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn their lesson. Iraq is no exception. Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region any more,” Assad said.

The Syrian leader said his government had “opened doors to negotiation” with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish group that controls parts of northern Syria. The SDF, which Assad dubbed the “only problem left in Syria,” would be confronted with force if negotiations fail, the president said.

Assad has been battling rebels opposed to his rule since a popular uprising seven years ago plunged the country into civil war. Government forces lost large swaths of territory, but Russian intervention on behalf of Assad in 2015 helped turn the tide of the war in his favor.