Syrian President dismisses 'cosmetic' anti-IS campaign

10 February 2017 

The humanitarian disaster affecting millions of Syrian refugees was caused by the policy of Western countries as well as regional powers, which supported terrorists in Syria, country’s President Bashar Assad said in an interview with the Yahoo News media outlet

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview released on Friday that the United States is welcome to join the battle against terrorists in Syria - as long as it is in cooperation with his government and respects the country's sovereignty. In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News at a presidential office in Damascus, Assad said that some of the refugees are definitely terrorists. President Assad lashed out a report of "torture and mass killings in a Syrian military prison" as a product of a fake news era. 

The humanitarian disaster affecting millions of Syrian refugees was caused by the policy of Western countries as well as regional powers, which supported terrorists in Syria, President Assad said in the interview.

"It is a humanitarian disaster created by the Western support of those terrorists, of course, and the regional support by Turkey and Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It didn’t happen just like this," Assad said. The Syrian government is ready to accept all refugees that had earlier left Syria, the Syrian president pointed out.


The United States and its allies sported terrorist in Syria, Assad said. The United States conducts a "cosmetic" military campaign against the outlawed Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which suffered losses in the wake of Russia's involvement, Syrian President added.

"John Kerry, a few months ago, said and by his voice that “we were watching ISIS advancing, and we expected the Syrian president to make concessions.” What does it mean? Obama said it in one of his speeches, that the war on Iraq created ISIS. So, who supported ISIS? We didn’t create it, you created it, the United States created all this mess. Who supported the rebels and called them “moderate rebels” while they became ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria? We didn’t. So, it’s not a conspiracy, these are facts, this is the reality. We didn’t give money, we didn’t support these terrorists. Your country supported them, UK, France, publicly, and they said they sent armaments, we didn’t. So, it’s not my allegation, it’s your official allegation, including Joe Biden, the Vice President of Obama. He said, about Saudi Arabia and other countries supporting the extremists…" Assad said.

"It started shrinking after the Russian intervention, not the American one," he was quoted as saying.

"It started shrinking after the Russian intervention, not the American one. How could they use our oil fields and export with thousands of barrel trucks to Turkey without being seen by your drones and by your satellites while the Russians could be able to do so and attack them and destroy them, destroy all their facilities? How? This is the cosmetic campaign against IS" he added.


The Syrian leader appeared to make a gesture to the new U.S. President Donal Trump in the interview, saying he welcomes Trump's declaration that he will make it a priority to fight terrorism - a goal Assad said he also shares.

"We agree about this priority," Assad said of Trump. "That's our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism." Assad also told Yahoo News that his country would welcome U.S. "participation" in the fight against terrorism but it has to be in cooperation with the Syrian government.

"If you want to start genuinely, as the United States ... it must be through the Syrian government. "We are here, we are the Syrians, we own this country as Syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us. So, you cannot defeat the terrorism without cooperation with the people and the government of Syria. We invited the Russians, and the Russians were genuine regarding this issue. If the Americans are genuine, of course, they are welcome, like any other country that wants to defeat and to fight with the terrorists. Of course, with no hesitation we can say that," he said.

Assad added that sending troops is not enough - a genuine political position on respecting Syria's sovereignty and unity is also needed.


Assad also blasted a report released this week by Amnesty International in which the group claimed as many as 13,000 prisoners were hanged in over four years in one of Syria's prisons and later buried in mass graves.

"It's always biased and politicised, and it's a shame for such an organisation to publish a report without a shred of evidence," Assad said.

He said the photos have been photoshopped and dismissed a Federal Bureau of Investigation report that stated the photos were real and not doctored.

"If the FBI say something, it's not evidence for anyone, especially for us," he said. "The most important thing: If you take these photos to any court in our country, could they convict any criminal regarding this? Could they tell you what this crime is, who committed it? If you don't have this full picture, you cannot make a judgment. It's just propaganda."

He added that the United States talking about human rights is hypocritical due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and American support for Saudi Arabia.

"The United States is in no position to talk about human rights," he said.


He also rejected an initiative that calls for creating "safe zones" in Syria for refugees, an idea also been floated by Trump as a substitute for resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"Safe zones for Syrians could only happen when you have stability and security," Assad said. "It's much more practical and less costly to have stability than to create safe zones. It's not a realistic idea at all."

Assad further noted that safe zones in Syria, long favoured by terrorist backers such as Turkey and Qatar, and said a political settlement to end the war should be the way to bring Syrians back to their homes.


Some of the terrorists that fought in Syria later fled to Europe and live there as "innocent" refugees, Bashar Assad said.

"You can find it on the Net … Those terrorists in Syria, holding the machine gun or killing people, they are peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West. There may not be many terrorists in Syria, but Assad warned it doesn't take many to do damage. "You don't need a significant number to commit atrocities," he added.

Speaking of the US President Donald Trump’s decree banning immigrants from certain countries to enter the United States, Assad stated that it was "an American issue," but added that as for the peaceful refugees from Syria, his priority as president was to bring them back home, "not help them immigrate."


Assad told the Yahoo News, he would step aside as soon as Syrians wanted him to do so. "Definitely, for me whenever Syrian people don’t want me to be in that position I would leave right away," Assad said. He also did not rule out holding early presidential elections if "the Syrian people think about early presidential elections or any kind of presidential elections."


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