PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad affirmed that the United States doesn’t have the will to reach any agreement about Syria, and that Syria knew in advance that the US agreement with Russia will not succeed because the main part of that agreement is to attack al-Nusra which is an ‘American card’ in Syria.
In an interview given to Denmark’s TV 2 channel, President al-Assad said that ‘moderate opposition’ is a myth, and that reaching a political solution requires fighting terrorism, asserting that it’s not acceptable that terrorists will take control of any part of Syria.
News Line is pleased to publish excerpts from the interview.
Asked to comment on ‘the dire situation in Aleppo, Assad told the interviewer:
‘The Syrian Army has continued its drive toward liberating every part of Syria including Aleppo or eastern Aleppo from the terrorists, but there was a ceasefire for one week in order to give the treaty, or the agreement, let’s say, between the Russians and the Americans a way to be implemented, and it didn’t work.
‘When that week ended, we continued our drive as army to liberate eastern Aleppo from the terrorists. But actually, when you want to talk about the dire situation in eastern Aleppo, it’s not because of the government; it’s because of the terrorists.
‘They’ve been in that area for years now, but we only heard about that “dire situation” in the media recently, in the Western media, because the situation of the terrorists is very bad. This is the only reason.
‘While if you want to talk about the situation there, we never prevented any medical supply or food supply or any other thing from entering east Aleppo. There’s no embargo, if that’s what you mean, there’s no embargo, and our role as a government is to encircle the terrorists in order to liberate every part of the city.’
Interviewer: ‘But what I also mean, we see pictures of children being killed, children at hospitals, we see pictures of demolished hospitals. Who’s targeting those hospitals?’
President Assad: ‘Let me tell you something about those pictures of children; of course, in every war, there are victims, there are innocent victims, and that’s why every war is a bad war, but if you look at those pictures that they’ve been promoted as pictures in the Western media, they only singled out a few pictures of children that suit their political agenda, just to accuse the Syrian government, while – you’ve been here now for two days – and they’ve been daily shelling from the eastern part of Aleppo toward the rest of the city, and there was wholesale killing and destruction of the other part of the city and tens of victims and tens of wounded people from Aleppo that the Western corporations didn’t talk about them.
‘The Western officials didn’t issue a single statement regarding those children and women and elderly and innocents in general. So, this is part of the propaganda and demonisation of the government in Syria. That doesn’t mean when you have war, again, that you don’t have victims, but the Syrian government has opened the door for the militants in the eastern part of Aleppo to leave safely with guarantees, and for the people of that area to go back to their houses.’
Interviewer: ‘So, if the Syrian Army didn’t attack hospitals, or maybe they did by mistake, you say, are you sure it’s not the Russian air force who are targeting hospitals?’
President Assad: ‘The question that you should ask when you have a crime: who is the beneficiary of that crime?
‘What would they get, I mean for the Russians or the Syrians, if they attack a school or if they attack hospital? What would they get if they attack a hospital? Nothing, they wouldn’t get anything. I mean, even if you want to talk about the terrorists, most of their hospitals for the militants would be in the basement in ordinary buildings. So, attacking a hospital intentionally by the army is based on shaky logic, let’s say.’
Interviewer: ‘Mr. President, you have kids yourself, and I’m sure you’re also watching television, you also watch these pictures of children at the hospitals, children being buried in the rubble. How does it affect you when you look at these pictures of Syrian children?
President Assad: Of course, I have children, I have the same feelings of any father and mother who would care a lot about their children, and how would they feel if they lose a member of their family. And by the way, we lost members of our families during the conflict because of the terrorist attacks.
‘But when you look at those killed children, you think why? Why the terrorists did so? Why did Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Turkey commit those crimes? And I wonder why would the Western countries, mainly the USA and its allies in Europe, have supported those terrorists who’ve been committing crimes in Syria? That’s the first thing I thought about.
‘Of course, as President, the second thing that I would think about is how can I protect the Syrian people and the Syrian children, and how can I protect the innocent from having the same fate in any coming day.
Interviewer: ‘So, you are blaming the rebels in the eastern part of Aleppo of being behind the attacks on the children of Aleppo?
President Assad: ‘You can take your camera to Aleppo, to the other part of Aleppo which is under the control of the government, which is – I mean, when you see the fact, it’s more credible than what I’m going to say – but you can see how many civilians have been killed during the last two months in Aleppo.
‘Hundreds of civilians have been killed by the rebels. The question is why didn’t we hear about them in the Western media? That’s my question. Again, I wouldn’t say that you don’t having civilians going as victims, but when it’s shelled by mortars by the rebels intentionally, we have to talk about this crime as well.’
Interviewer: ‘You have encouraged the civilians in the eastern part of Aleppo, and also actually the rebels, to leave the place. You wanted to create a humanitarian corridor. Can you guarantee the safety of those civilians and the rebels if they leave the rebel-held part of the city?’
President Assad: Exactly, that’s what we announced a few days ago, and we announced it two months ago, because we wanted the civilians to leave away from the terrorists. Yeah.’
Interviewer: ‘And how are you going to protect them?
President Assad: They are allowed to leave. It happened many times, in many different areas in Syria. We allowed the terrorists to leave that area in order to protect the civilians. We don’t need any more blood-letting and blood-shedding. This is one of the ways or the methods we’ve been using in order to protect the civilians. Of course, if they don’t obey, we tell the civilians that we’re going to attack that area, so they can move away from it. But the best way is to allow the terrorists to leave, and the civilians will be safe, then you can if you want to follow or chase the terrorists, you can chase them somewhere else where there’s no civilians.
Asked if he was denying ‘facts’, Assad said: ‘There are always mistakes committed in any war. So, I’m very realistic. But to say that this is our aim as a government, we give the order to destroy hospitals or schools or to kill civilians, this is against our interests. I mean, if you want to put the morals aside, we wouldn’t do it because this is against us, so how can those people, that would say that we are only denying facts, convince anyone that we are working against our interests?
‘This is first. Second, if we are killing people, Syrian people, and destroying hospitals and committing all these atrocities, and we’ve been faced by all the great powers and the petrodollars in the world, how can I be President after nearly six years of the beginning of the war? I’m not Superman, if I don’t have support, I wouldn’t be here, and because I have the support, and because we defend the Syrian people, we have the support as President or as a government. This is how to refute all these claims. I mean, at the end, the reality is telling.’
Interviewer: ‘So, there’s a fierce battle going on in Aleppo right now. What will be the Syrian army and the Russian army’s next move to retake the eastern rebel-held part of Aleppo?’
President Assad: ‘To continue the fight with the rebels till they leave Aleppo. They have to. There’s no other option. We won’t accept that terrorists will take control of any part of Syria, not only Aleppo. This is our mission, and this is our goal, and this is our next step.’
Interviewer: ‘The United States, they stopped all bilateral talks with Russia about any kind of peace agreement, and the Russians they said that they actually regret this. Do you regret it as well?’
President Assad: ‘We regret it, but we knew in advance that it wouldn’t work, because the agreement, it’s not only about the talks between the two great powers, it’s not about what they’re going to sign or agree upon; it’s about the will, and we already knew, we had already known that the Americans didn’t have the will to reach any agreement, because the main part of that agreement is to attack al-Nusra which is, according to the American list and to the United Nations list, is a terrorist group, but in the Syrian conflict, it’s an American card. Without al-Nusra, the Americans cannot have any real, let’s say, concrete and effective card in the Syrian arena. That’s why we regret it, but we already knew that it wouldn’t happen.’
Interviewer: ‘But isn’t it very difficult for the United States to separate the so-called “moderate rebels” and some of the more radical ones? This is very difficult, when you are attacking the moderate rebels all the time.’
President Assad: ‘You are right, do you know why you are right? Do you know the unicorn, the animal that’s like a horse, has a long horn? It’s a myth. And the moderate opposition is a myth. That’s why you cannot separate something that doesn’t exist from something that exists.
‘All of them have the same grassroots, the same grassroots that used to be called “free Syrian army” four years ago, five years ago, then it became al-Nusra, then it became ISIS. So, the same grassroots move from group to another group. That’s why they cannot separate it. And they don’t want.. if this is reality, not a myth, they don’t want, but they cannot, because it doesn’t exist.
Interviewer: ‘But why did you ask them to do it if it’s not possible?’
President Assad: ‘Because they insisted that there is a moderate opposition, and the Russian told them “ok, if there is a moderate opposition, please separate those moderates from the extremists,” and it didn’t work, because they don’t exist, that’s why.’
Interviewer: ‘What do you think will be the consequences of the US suspension of the bilateral talks? I mean, until now, the Syrian and Russian armies, they have avoided direct clashes with the US army. Do you think that there’s an increased risk of direct attacks between you and your allies and the US army?’
President Assad: ‘Many people are talking about the escalation, if the agreement didn’t work or if it’s not implemented. But actually that escalation has been happening for a while now.
‘I mean, before that agreement, let’s say, failed, the Americans attacked our forces in Deir Ezzor, and everybody knows that only one group existed in Deir Ezzor, which is ISIS, and ISIS came and took the place of the Syrian Army and they threaten the city, which is called Deir Ezzor, because of the American attacks. So, talking about escalation, it’s already happening.
‘Talking about direct confrontation, since World War II, that never happened, I mean, it was very close to happening during the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962 I think. Now the situation is different, because in the United States you don’t have superior statecraft.
‘When you don’t have superior statecraft, you should expect anything, and you should always expect the worse. I’m sure that Russia is doing its best not to reach that point, but do the Americans – or, let’s say, the “hawks” part or the group within the administration – do their best to avoid that confrontation, or the opposite, do their best to have this confrontation with Russia? That’s what worries us.’