‘The Failure Of Their Battle For Aleppo Means A Total Transformation Of The War’

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PRESIDENT Assad had an interview with the Syrian newspaper al-Watan last Wednesday and we are pleased to be be able to publish some extracts from that interview.

Question: Mr. President, can we start with Aleppo? The army is advancing quickly in the eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo. But there are American and international efforts, and there are also negotiations with Russia in order to stop fighting completely in these areas. Has the decision to liberate Aleppo completely been taken?

President Assad: The decision to liberate the whole of Syria, including Aleppo, was taken right at the beginning. We have never thought of leaving any area unliberated. But the developments of military actions during the last year led to these military results which we have seen recently, i.e. liberating the eastern part of Aleppo recently doesn’t come in a political framework, but rather in the context of normal military operations.

Question: Why this international panic and concern for the militants in the eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo, although most of them belong to al-Nusra, which is listed as a terrorist organisation?

President Assad: There are a number of reasons. First, after the failure of the battle, or battles, for Damascus in the first years of the crisis, and later the failure of the battles for Homs, which was supposed to be a stronghold for the fake or supposed revolution, they moved to Aleppo as their last hope. The advantage that Aleppo enjoys for the terrorists and their supporters is that it is close to Turkey, and consequently logistic supplies to Aleppo are much easier from all aspects.

So, they concentrated on Aleppo during the last two years, and that’s why liberating Aleppo from the terrorists deals a blow to the whole foundation of the project, Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo. That way the terrorists and the countries supporting them are deprived of any real cards.

Question: This leads us to the question about the statement: ‘The winner in the battle of Aleppo wins the war in Syria.’ This has been promoted often by the Turks and the Americans. Is that statement true?

President Assad: From a military perspective, let’s say it is true, because Damascus and Aleppo are the two most important cities, so the party which wins Damascus or Aleppo militarily makes a significant political and military achievement since they are politically and economically important.

That is in the strategic sense. But since the Turkish project is based on Aleppo, this gives it special importance. We all know today that all Western and regional states rely on Turkey in implementing their incendiary and destructive project in Syria and in supporting the terrorists.

Because Turkey has thrown all its weight, and Erdogan laid all his bets on Aleppo, the failure of their battle in Aleppo means a total transformation of the course of the war throughout Syria, and consequently the collapse of the outside project, be it regional or Western.

For that reason, it is true that the battle of Aleppo will be a gain, but to be realistic, it doesn’t mean the end of the war in Syria. It is a significant landmark towards the end of the battle, but the war in Syria will not end until terrorism is eliminated.

Terrorists are there in other areas; so even if we finish in Aleppo, we will carry on with the war against them.

Question: Mr. President, in this context, there are questions raised even by the people of Aleppo. Why all these recurrent truces have been implemented in Aleppo?

Throughout last year, there was one truce after another. Was it for the army to avoid a big battle, or to open the space for Russia to conduct negotiations with the United States and Turkey?

President Assad: If we look at the truces in general, we have always gone along with the principle of the truce for a number of reasons. First, a truce allows civilians to get out of the areas occupied by terrorists, allows for the delivery of humanitarian aid, and gives the terrorists an opportunity to rethink their position if they want to settle their legal status with the state, or if they want to leave the area they occupy as often happens. A truce provides an opportunity to have less destruction.

At the same time, and for us from a military perspective, our top priority is the safety and security of our fighters. So, on all these counts, a truce has advantages, and that’s why we have gone along with them. Reconciliations are another result of such truces. There is no doubt that they have achieved results on the ground.

But if we take Aleppo in particular, and because Aleppo was recently the base of the hostile project, other powers have called for truces not for the reasons I listed above. They called for them for other reasons. We all know that they want to give terrorists an opportunity to breathe, strengthen their positions, and send logistic supplies whether by smuggling or under the cover of humanitarian aid and the like.

All this was done to enable the terrorists to regain positions they have lost or to attack the army and complete the plans they have been charged with.

That’s why truces have failed. At the same time, and from a political perspective, truces were useful for us in order to prove to all those who still have doubts that these states are lying and they want this truce not for the sake of the people, and not because they want to put an end to bloodshed, but because they want one thing only, which is strengthening the positions of the terrorists.

That’s why we have gone along with these truces taking into account the real intentions of these states. And whenever they carried out any act which undermines the principle of the truce, we used to consider them null and void and carry on with military action. That’s the reason for the repeated truces in general, but particularly so in Aleppo.

Question: So, are there no more truces today?

President Assad: Practically, there are no truces. They still insist on calling for a truce, particularly the Americans, because their proxies, the terrorists, are in a difficult position. That’s why crying, wailing, and begging for a truce constitute their only political discourse now, in addition, of course, to talking about humanitarian aspects.

Question: Mr. President, allow me to move from Aleppo to international relations. So far, the West is portraying the Syrian-Russian relation as one of subordination, that Syria is a Russian satellite, and that Damascus no longer has an independent decision, for all decisions are made in Moscow. How do you respond to such claims?

President Assad: First, let’s say that the West thinks this way because it lives such a condition. You know that all Western states are now satellites of one master, America. The American maestro moves his baton and they all move in one direction, politically, militarily, or even in the media. What coincidence that all Western media across Europe and America have one narrative! What democracy and freedom! So, they live this condition of subordination. Their relationship with other states in our region is one of subordination. It is well known that most states in this region are satellites of Western states and axes, one way or another. That’s why they use this logic.

As for Russia, we have dealt with many Russians recently, in addition to our knowledge of them for decades, through the relationship with the Soviet Union and then with Russia. In the different circumstances this relationship has undergone – circumstances that have brought radical changes – not once the Russians tried to impose anything on us, even when there were differences, including Syria’s role in Lebanon.

Despite our differences with the Soviet Union at that time, they did not try to impose certain decisions on us although we used to depend greatly on them, particularly when it comes to weapons.

Today, the same applies to the Russian Federation. It is not merely a style adopted by the President or the Russian leadership. It is a form of popular culture for them. When we meet on all levels, and in all sectors, they have one culture based on morality. They have self-respect and they respect sovereignty. That’s why the Russian policy today is based on principles, because these principles constitute an existing popular and cultural condition.

When they say that they emphasise Security Council resolutions, state sovereignty, respect for others, respect for the will of the Syrian people, or any other people, they reflect their culture and apply it on a daily and continuous manner.

That’s why I can confirm that they haven’t carried out one simple or complicated, major or important step, regardless of the labels, except in consultation with Syria. Of course, most of these consultations are not public. And because the game today is an international one between the West which wants to undermine and embarrass Russia, on the one hand, and Russia and its allies on the other, Russia announces a certain step or agreement.

This might appear to some people as if Russia makes the decisions, but reality is different and our relationship is based on self-respect. Of course, now they are fighting, with us, a real battle against terrorism, and in this case we are partners, and we cannot say that decisions are purely Syrian, and that the Russians have nothing to do with them. This is illogical.

There are consultations on a daily basis, and there is agreement and disagreement, but ultimately we agree on one decision and take one decision.

Question: Mr. President, on this subject, there are those who say that Syria will pay a price for Russian assistance or Russian intervention, for instance. People talk about this. Do the Russians ask for anything in return for their intervention in Syria?

President Assad: Absolutely not. They haven’t asked for anything. On the contrary, we want to strengthen these ties and have called, before the crisis, and after the crisis, for Russian investment in Syria. In return, they haven’t tried to take advantage of this condition at all.

As we said, principles are essential for their policies. At the same time, the war on terrorism is not fought only for Syria. It is a war for Russia, for Europe, the region, and the whole world. The Russians are aware of this on the political and popular levels. That’s why if we talk about principles, they are based on principles, and if we talk about interests, there are also common interests between the two countries.

They have said this publicly. ‘We are defending the Russian people by preventing terrorism from reaching Russia.’ They said this on more than one occasion. . .

Question: US President-elect Donald Trump said in his statements that he is not interested in removing the Syrian President from power and interfering in Syrian affairs, and that his only concern is fighting ISIS. Do you believe that there is a possibility to cooperate with the American army in fighting ISIS, particularly that the September 9 agreement between the Russians and the Americans was sabotaged by the Pentagon because it believes that Jabhat al-Nusra is the only force that can be used to threaten the Syrian regime?

President Assad: In principle, we have spoken about the necessity of forming an alliance against terrorism since 1985. And we continuously announce that Syria is ready to cooperate with any party seeking seriously to fight terrorism. This is a general principle which applies to the United States and all countries. But realistically, can the United States move in that direction? Talking about the issue which you mentioned, it shows that the Pentagon plays a role contrary to that of the White House, and the White House follows a policy different from that of the State Department.

The fact is that the American state has appeared during the past year in a state similar to that of the armed factions in Syria, when they fight for spoils. This is not new, but has appeared more clearly.

That’s why you see statements in the morning which differ from their policies in the evening, and their policies in the evening differ from what they do in implementation of that policy the next day, and so on.

There are contradictory statements among the different lobbies and administrations. You feel that there is no specific policy, but different conflicts. This is the truth. Can the new President control these things? This question is difficult to answer. Can he face the media, which is part of the lying and deceptive propaganda? Was electing Trump a reaction on the part of the American people against the existing political institution? There are many complicated questions.

If Trump was able to implement what he announced during his election campaign, that he will fight terrorism, and that his priority is ISIS, and was able to bring all American forces, movements, and institutions in that direction, what he said will be realistic. But we have to wait and see what will happen in the United States.