Polisario Front, which has campaigned for independence for former Spanish colony since 1970s, promises to fight on until "occupation troops" withdraw, a day after US recognised Rabat's sovereignty there.

The word Polisario is seen on the ground in Tifariti, Western Sahara, on September 9, 2016.
The word Polisario is seen on the ground in Tifariti, Western Sahara, on September 9, 2016. (Reuters)

The Polisario Front has vowed to press on with its fight for the Western Sahara, a day after the United States recognised Moroccan rule over the area in exchange for opening ties with Israel.

"Fighting will continue until the total withdrawal of the Moroccan occupation troops," said Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which the Polisario proclaimed in 1976.

The US decision was "null and void," Ould Salek said, emphasising that the international community "does not recognise and will not recognise any Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara."

Sovereignty "belongs exclusively to the Sahrawi people," he told AFP news agency.

Trump, whose mandate ends in January, said that he had agreed to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory, while also announcing that Morocco was normalising relations with Israel.

READ MORE: Polisario: Morocco must end 'occupation' of Western Sahara

READ MORE: Trump announces Israel, Morocco to normalise relations

End of truce

A decades-old ceasefire collapsed in mid-November after Morocco said it had sent troops into no man's land there to reopen a road to neighbouring Mauritania.

The Polisario has since claimed that daily exchanges of fire have taken place along the sand barrier that separates the two sides.

Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco's control, where tensions with the pro-independence Polisario have simmered since the 1970s.

The Algerian-backed movement holds a fifth of the Western Sahara and has campaigned for a vote on self-determination through decades of war and deadlock.

The SADR is a member of the African Union but controls just 20 percent of the territory, mostly empty desert.

The Polisario, which fought a war for independence from 1975 to 1991, demands a referendum on self-determination for Western Sahara.

UN-led talks between the two sides — also including Algeria and Mauritania — have been suspended for months.

READ MORE: Will recent clashes reignite the Morocco-Western Sahara conflict?

Russia says US breached international law

The United Nations said its position on Western Sahara was "unchanged" following the US move.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres believes "the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions," his spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Russia condemned US decision to recognise Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, saying it contravened international law.

"This is a violation of international law," Russian news agencies cited Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies