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Syria | Full text of the interview given by Pres. Assad to Iran’s Al- Alam TV

13 June 2018




-> 'Syrian-Iranian relation is strategic, not subject to a deal, and it is linked to the present and future of the region. Neither Syria nor Iran has floated this relationship on the international political bazaar for it to be subject to haggling.'

--> 'Since the beginning of the war, particularly when it started to have a clear military nature on the southern front in particular, the Israelis used to shell Syrian forces continuously, and consequently provide direct support to the terrorists. Israeli artillery and aircraft are the terrorists’ artillery and aircraft…'


Below is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, there are many issues which we will talk about, but in the light of the victories you have achieved, the main focus remains the south of Syria. What’s happening exactly, or what is the nature of what is happening in the south of Syria?

President Assad: To put it simply, after the liberation of al-Ghouta, it was suggested that we should move south. We were faced with two options, as is the case in all other areas in Syria: reconciliation or liberation by force. At this point, the Russians suggested the possibility of giving reconciliation an opportunity, similar to what happened in other areas, in order to restore the situation that prevailed before 2011. In other words, for the Syrian Army to be deployed in that area, which is an area of confrontation with the Zionist enemy. And of course the terrorists should leave the area. This proposition suits us. Up till now, there are no concrete results for a simple reason which is Israeli and American interference; for they put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution. That is how the situation stands now.

Question 2: So, it hasn’t been decided whether to move towards a military operation or towards reconciliation?

President Assad: No, contacts are still ongoing between the Russians, the Americans, and the Israelis, while nobody is communicating with the terrorists, because they are mere tools, and they implement what their masters decide ultimately. This is what happened, i.e. there was an opportunity to reach reconciliation, but the American and Israeli interference prevented that possibility.

Question 3: Of course, this is the reality there. But on the other hand, there are those who talk about many things taking place in the south. Mr. President, is there a certain deal, what is the price? Is there really a price for concluding this deal in the south? Let me talk frankly about the issue of getting the Iranians to leave the southern region in return for al-Tanf, for example. What did the Americans demand, or let’s say, what was the price the Americans asked to approve the reconciliation process in the south?

President Assad: For the Americans, there is a general principle they follow in dealing with any problem in the world. The only price they ask for is absolute hegemony, regardless of the issue and the place. Of course, we shall never provide that price; otherwise we wouldn’t have fought this war for years. We have been fighting for the independence of Syrian decision-making, for the Syrian homeland, and for the unity of Syrian territory. As for Iran in particular, let me be very clear: the Syrian-Iranian relationship is a strategic one not subject to a deal in the south or in the north. This relationship, in terms of its implications and results on the ground, is linked to the present and future of the region. Consequently, it is not subject to the price tags of the international bazaar. Neither Syria nor Iran has floated this relationship on the international political bazaar for it to be subject to haggling. The proposition was made by the Israelis with the objective of provoking and embarrassing Iran. At the same time, this comes in line with the international propaganda campaign launched against Iran regarding the nuclear file. It is not a separate issue; for everything happening now is linked to Iran in order to create an international position against it. As for us in Syria, the decision concerning our land is an exclusively Syrian decision. We are fighting the same battle, and when we have a decision concerning Iran, we will talk about it with the Iranians and not with any other party.


Question 4: Of course, we will talk more about Iran and in more detail, but since we are talking about the southern front, let’s explore it further. Practically, in the same context, there is the MOC which hasn’t stopped its operations since the beginning of the war on Syria about eight years ago. It is working and is still active, and is directly linked to the Israelis. But we have noticed recently that it has been reactivated, and there are more communications. Mr. President, does this mean that the Syrian state is practically moving towards a military decisive action in the south regardless of the consequences, whether things reach a stalemate or not? Is a decisive action in the cards for the Syrian leadership?

President Assad: No, MOC has nothing to do with this decision. MOC has been linked to the presence and the role of the terrorists since the beginning of the war on Syria. That’s why it existed: in order to lead them militarily. Consequently, the continued existence of this operations room means the continuation of the role given to these terrorists, i.e. they are equipped and prepared to carry out more terrorist acts. MOC is linked to the terrorists and not to the role of the Syrian state. Our role has nothing to do with it. Our decision has been clear from the beginning: we will liberate all Syrian lands. As to when to move south, north, east, or west, this is a purely military issue. But regardless of MOC, we have moved towards the south and we are giving the political process a chance. If that doesn’t succeed, we have no other option but to liberate it by force.
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Question 5: But there is a confrontation in the south, and the issue is not limited geographically to Syria in the larger political sense. There are the Americans, the Russians, the Iranians, the Israelis, and Hezbollah. All these parties are there in the area. What does that mean? How are you going to deal with this?

President Assad: You are talking about two axes: one supporting terrorism, and represented by the US, Israel, and some flunkies in the region including some Arab and non-Arab states, and an anti-terrorist axis. The first axis supports terrorism and seeks hegemony, while the second axis seeks independence. So, there can be only one result for this confrontation, i.e. the victory of one of these axes. At least, as far as the anti-terrorist axis is concerned, it will not give up the process of cleaning Syria and the region of terrorism and will not give up on the unity of Syrian territory.

As to the other axis, will it change as a result of the reality on the ground? Let’s wait and see. But in terms of substance and convictions, it will not change, while in terms of the political practices dictated by reality and the facts on the ground, it might.

Question 6: Will the Americans leave al-Tanf?

President Assad: The Americans say they are ready, but everyone knows that the Americans are historically professional liars in politics. So why should we believe them? Also, we have to wait and see.

Question 7: Mr. President, what’s happening now in Jordan? Is it linked to what’s happening on the southern front in particular, i.e. is it linked to what is being plotted in that region, in your view?

President Assad: In fact, the only information we have is what we hear in the media. In any case, we wish Jordan stability, not chaos, because the latter will have a negative impact on us.

Question 8: Since we are talking about the south, let’s close this file. Mr. President, what would make the Israeli occupation agree to the return of the Syrian Army to the borders, i.e. a return to the situation which existed at the beginning of 2011, after seven years of repeated Zionist attempts, directly and indirectly, to undermine the Syrian state, the regime in Syria, and stability in Syria. Why would it agree now to the return of the Syrian Army to the borders and to the occupied Golan?

President Assad: Certainly, neither conviction, morality, nor international law means anything to the Israelis. Since the beginning of the war, particularly when it started to have a clear military nature on the southern front in particular, the Israelis used to shell Syrian forces continuously, and consequently provide direct support to the terrorists. Israeli artillery and aircraft are the terrorists’ artillery and aircraft. That applies to Jabhat al-Nusra of course. Nothing is going to change this Israeli approach. As far as we are concerned, Israel’s approval had no role at all. Despite Israeli support to the terrorists, we have been doing our job, and the Syrian Army is fighting its way towards the southern front, and has liberated a number of areas within the limits of its capabilities. So, with or without its approval, the decision is a Syrian one, and this is a national duty we shall carry out.

Question 9: So, a return of the Syrian Army is better than having resistance in the Golan, for instance?

President Assad: For the Israelis?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: I think the two options are bad for the Israelis. Both of them are bad. Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has repeatedly talked about Syria’s relationship with the resistance and a Syrian role in the resistance. So, how would the Israelis choose between two bad things for them?



Question 10: As you said, Mr. President, Israel has financed, supported, and more dangerously was capable of enlisting a large number of Syrians, some of whom were treated inside occupied Palestine. They talked about it. In the future, how would you deal with this large number of Israeli agents? Maybe some of them were misled and Israel might have exploited the financial and living conditions of some; and some have chosen to side with the Israelis. How would you deal with them in the future?

President Assad: This is true; we cannot put everyone in the same basket. There are different reasons for moving in this wrong direction; and these people have wronged the homeland and every Syrian citizen. Ultimately, they are the children of this homeland, and we all bear responsibility for this problem, not only those who have done wrong. When crime, for instance, becomes widespread in a certain country, the whole society bears responsibility for this crime, not only the security agencies or the criminals themselves. The first thing that should be done is to accommodate these people. Second, we need to address the root causes which led to this case of weak patriotism. The causes here are many and complicated, and the scope of this interview doesn’t allow for all of them to be mentioned.

Question 11: In the same context, while you are talking about restoring the Syrian air defense systems and confronting the Zionist occupation, statements have been made by leaders of the Israeli entity that they will strike at the depth of Syrian territory. How would you deal with that situation, particularly that balance has been achieved recently, i.e. balance between Israeli aggressions and Syrian responses?

President Assad: Basically, we haven’t stopped responding. First of all, we haven’t stopped fighting terrorists, and at the same time we haven’t stopped responding to Israeli aggression within the capabilities available to us, militarily and technically. Moreover, the more these capabilities improve; the response will be better and higher. But in fact the strongest response to Israel now is to strike the Israeli army existing in Syria which consists practically of the terrorists.

Journalist: You consider them an Israeli army?

President Assad: Of course, for they are acting clearly and starkly in Israel’s interest. The first acts they carried out were attacks against the air defense systems. What is the link between air defense systems and the terrorists acting as infantry on the ground? This was an Israeli order. It was an Israeli-American order because it is the same thing. So, they are Israel’s army inside Syria; and the first strike against Israel, politically, militarily, and in every other area, is to strike Israel’s terrorists inside Syria, whether they belong to ISIS, al-Nusra, or the other groups linked to the Israeli plan and strategy.

Journalist: If Israel escalates, are you prepared to respond more forcefully?

President Assad: This is what’s happening. It is escalating, and we are responding. Ultimately, we are fighting the war within the capabilities available to us, and we are doing our best within these capabilities. A response does not need a political decision. I stress that responding or not responding is not a political decision. It is a national decision, and it was taken from day one. But implementing this decision depends on what we can do militarily and not politically.

Question 12: In terms of capabilities, there is one issue in the media which we are always following, i.e. the S300 Russian missiles. Russia says, “We will deliver these missiles”, and then says, “We will not deliver them”, which means that the issue is not clear. What is happening exactly? Why this Russian hesitation, in your view, in delivering the S300 missiles to Syria, while some other countries have been seeking S400, i.e. they are ahead of us in this regard.

President Assad: You know that military action and military considerations are part of political considerations. Consequently, a statement, even if it is of a military nature, carries at the same time political messages. So, why did the Russians say that they want to send or not send? This is a statement that the Russians should be asked about because it might be part of their political tactics. As to the military aspect of the statement, which concerns Syria, it’s not our custom to talk about the weapon which will be delivered or not delivered. The evidence was that the weapons used in response to the last two aggressions, the tripartite aggression and after that the Israeli aggression, were not announced by Syria. We traditionally do not announce cases of a technical military nature.

Journalist: So, even the nature of the response is not linked to the issue of the S300 missiles?

President Assad: No. The same applies. Even if the S300 missiles will be provided or not provided, we will not say that they were delivered to Syria. A weapon is used when it must be used.

Journalist: Is there a possibility that you have developed certain weapons?

President Assad: This remains a possibility. In any case, the result is the same: weapons shouldn’t be talked about until they are used. Weapons announce themselves only when they are used.

Question 13: Mr. President, let’s return to the political aspect, since we are talking about the southern front. Regarding the general situation, in light of all that has been achieved on the Syrian arena today, the most prominent actor is the tripartite alliance, or what is being called the tripartite alliance. I mean Syria, Iran, and Russia. What is the nature of this alliance? Is it a temporary alliance, in the sense that it is linked to fighting terrorism or to certain developments on the Syrian arena? Recently, we have started to see – or let’s say some have focused on certain points in order to show – a certain fracture in this alliance. What is your take on that and what is the actual reality of this alliance?

President Assad: If we talk first about the Syrian-Iranian part, for 40 years, and in the different conditions that the Middle East region has gone through, this alliance remained solid. So, there is no reason to say that it is temporary or otherwise. The new element in the war on Syria is the Russian element, and that’s why this tripartite alliance came into existence. Our relationship with Russia is now about seven decades old. Despite the fluctuations and the fall of the Soviet Union, the rule of President Yeltsin, and the deterioration of these relations to a large degree for us, it has never reached the stage of reversing this relationship with Syria. Russia continued to deal with Syria as a friendly state, and we have imported everything from Russia, including weapons, during the different stages of the sanctions imposed on Syria. It is not in the nature of the Russians to build temporary or self-serving alliances or to sell out on relations in order to get deals done. The relationship is definitely a strategic one, but the political statements allowed for these speculations.

These statements also aim at sending messages in different directions. Maybe, sometimes the language or the choice of particular terminology might not be helpful and might take the statement in a different direction at odds with the content of the statement. This happens from time to time. However, these statements shouldn’t be taken out of context: the Russian view of the relationship with Iran is a strategic one. As for Syria, the Russians do not interfere in Syrian affairs. If they have a certain opinion, they raise it with us and say that in the end, the decision is that of the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people. This is a constant principle for Russia. Therefore, the alliance is a strategic one, and if there are differences, such differences happen within the Syrian state, and you see differences within the Iranian state and within the Russian state. It is natural for us to differ on daily tactical details, for why conduct a dialogue if we agree on everything? We meet extensively in order to reach agreement.

Journalist: So, this tripartite alliance is being consolidated.

President Assad: Of course. This is dictated by reality, interest, and international changes that make it necessary for this alliance to be consolidated. As long as the other axis supports terrorism, and as long as we, together with Iran and Russia, feel the danger of terrorism, not only in Syria, but also on all these countries and on the whole world, and as long as Syria, Iran, and Russia realize the importance of abiding by international law, these facts make the existence of this alliance necessary.

Question 14: But there are those who say that Syria will get a price if the Iranians leave Syrian territories. Is there a certain political, moral, or military price in this regard?

President Assad: As I said in the beginning, as long as this relationship is not floated in the bazaar, they cannot offer a price, and the answer will be clear. That’s why they don’t dare suggest this price. This issue was raised by different countries, including Saudi Arabia for instance, at the beginning of the war, and not only at the beginning, but at different stages. The proposition was that if Syria cut its relationship with Iran, the situation in Syria will be normal. This principle is basically rejected by us.

Journalist: So, there were initiatives, so to speak, made in this regard by Saudi Arabia.

President Assad: During the war?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: Of course, more than once, and in a clear manner.

Journalist: Directly?

President Assad: Directly. The relationship with Iran was the basis for every proposition; and Saudi Arabia’s position on this subject is public. I’m not revealing a secret.

Question 15: An issue is raised, whether in Syria, Iran, or Lebanon, about the nature of Iranian presence in Syria. Some call them Iranian advisors. Even the Syrian Foreign Minister used the same term. At the same time, we notice that there are Iranian martyrs. Frankly, Mr. President, what is the nature of Iranian presence in Syria now?

President Assad: The term adviser is sometimes used in a broad manner, i.e. these advisers have been with us, through the longstanding relationship with Iran, even before the war, because the military relationship is close. When a military formation moves to a fighting position, the adviser becomes a fighter. So, the word can be used in different senses. There are certainly Iranian advisers in Syria, and there are groups of Iranian volunteers who came to Syria, and they are led by Iranian officers. Iran has fought with and defended the Syrian people. It offered blood. That’s why when we say “advisers” this is a generic term, but this doesn’t mean that we are ashamed of any Iranian presence, even if it is official. But we use the word “advisers” because there are no regular Iranian fighting units in Syria.

Journalist: Full formations.

President Assad: Exactly. There are no battalions, or brigades, or divisions. First, we can’t hide them, and then why should we be ashamed of that? When we invited the Russians legally to come to Syria, we were not ashamed of that. And if there were an Iranian formation, we would announce it, because such relations need agreements between the two states endorsed by parliaments. Such relations cannot be concealed.

Journalist: And you invited Iranian advisers to come?

President Assad: Of course, from the beginning we invited the Iranians, and then we invited the Russians. We needed the support of these countries, and they answered the call.

Journalist: Mr. President, you said more than once that there are no Iranian bases in Syria.

President Assad: That’s correct.

Journalist: Why there are no Iranian bases, while we notice that there are a number of Russian bases?

President Assad: There’s nothing that prevents the existence of such bases as long as Iran is an ally as is Russia.

Journalist: This means that if Iran requested the existence of such bases, you would agree?

President Assad: If we ask. We will ask them to agree. I mean that we could ask for the existence of such forces to support us. Iran has never asked and does not have an interest except in fighting terrorism. But the evolution of the war made it necessary to develop the nature of this presence.

This happened as far as the Russians are concerned. In the beginning, Russian support, like Iranian support, was different from what it is today. The support for terrorism has developed internationally and globally when the Syrian Army confronted those terrorists, and with that Russian and Iranian military presence developed. At a certain stage, we found – with the Russians of course – that the existence of air bases was necessary to provide air support to the Syrian Army. And now, if we find, in cooperation, coordination, or dialogue with the Iranians, that there is a need for Iranian military bases, we will not hesitate. But now, Iranian support in its present form is good and effective.

Question 16: Why haven’t you visited Iran so far, although you visited Russia more than once?

President Assad: That’s correct. In fact, there was a scheduled visit to Iran a few months ago, and it was postponed and not cancelled. It was postponed because of an emergency in Syria related to the development of battles. There is certainly no reason which prevents such a visit, and I’ll visit Iran hopefully soon on the earliest opportunity. This is natural, but the issue is logistic, no more, no less.

Question 17: Mr. President, I move to another file. Last week, it was the Jerusalem International Day, and the Palestinian cause is going through its most difficult stages. We are talking about the “deal of the century”, and moving the American Embassy to occupied Jerusalem. What do you have to say about Palestine? Is Syria still capable of supporting the Palestine cause? Basically, wasn’t one of the most important objectives of the war on Syria to get Syria out of the axis of resistance and to prevent it from supporting resistance, whether in Lebanon or Palestine?

President Assad: The Palestine context, since 1948 up till now, has been a complicated one, because the regional context is complicated. Of course, it is complicated because the colonial West, which is particularly supportive of Israel, has always created elements which aim at one single thing. First, to drive to desperation the Arab citizen who is historically attached to the cause of Palestine and who has always considered it a pan-Arab cause that touched him even on the national level.

The other objective has been to distract the Arab peoples together with states or societies in general to marginal causes so that they do not have time to think about Israel. And they have succeeded to a great extent, most recently through the so-called Arab spring which has aimed at destroying the political, military, and psychological infrastructure of Arab societies.

Nevertheless, recent development have proven that the Arab people is still conscientiously attached to the cause of Palestine. As for Syria – since it has been part of these plots to undermine the Arab condition in general – first, for Syria to support the cause of Palestine, it should first of all destroy the Israeli army in Syria. Restoring stability in Syria, striking terrorism, and foiling the Israeli plot in Syria is certainly part of supporting the cause of Palestine. The support might be indirect with direct consequences, but these direct consequences are linked to the internal Palestinian condition. We shouldn’t forget that the Palestinians are divided between groups which resist Israel and are genuinely linked to the cause of Palestine, and other groups which are against the resistance and support surrenderist and defeatist peace, while there are other groups which use resistance as a title in order to achieve their political objectives under the slogan of religion. This is of course the Muslim Brotherhood’s approach.

Question 18: Are you prepared to offer whatever the resistance asks of you, whether in the form of political, military, or any other form of support?

President Assad: Politically, we haven’t changed. The Palestinian question for us is still as it was ten years ago and decades ago. It hasn’t changed. As to what we can offer, this has to do with two things: first, Syria’s current capabilities; and there’s no doubt that the priority is given now to cleaning Syria of terrorism. Second, it has to do with the Palestinian condition and the parties with which we can deal within the Palestinian arena.

Question 19: Since we are talking about resistance, there is the other side. In addition to some countries which stood beside Syria in fighting terrorism, there was also a role played by the resistance in Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah, which provided a great deal and contributed to fighting terrorism. What do you say, Mr. President, to resistance fighters and families of martyrs and the wounded?

President Assad: When all these groups of resistance get together to defend Syrian soil and Syrian citizens, including the Lebanese resistance and the brothers who came from Iraq some of whom reproached me for not mentioning them by name, I take this opportunity to stress that there are brothers from Iraq to whom we give the same weight of any resistance fighter who came from any other country.

There are also the families of resistance fighters who came from Iran and sacrificed their blood in Syria. We should put all these in the same basket next to the Syrian martyrs, fighters, and their families. To those I say that all the letters, the words, the sentences, and the whole of literature are much less than a single drop of blood. Therefore, words are of a much lesser value than what they have offered. What’s more important is what history will write about them.

In fact, when we talk about writing history, we need to highlight that history needs a strategy and needs tactics, but the fact remains that strategy without implementation on the ground has no value. It remains mere thought which we might include in books and essays. But the reality is that these individuals in these countries, this group of resistance fighters, not politics, write history. I would like to use the answer to this question to express to them all my love, respect, and appreciation, and my reverence to the fighters, the wounded, and martyrs, and to all their families who are courage incarnated and who sent these individuals to Syria to defend it and fight terrorism, so that these families become models of morality and principles for present and future generations.

Question 20: Have you asked Hezbollah to leave Syria? A few days ago His Eminence Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah talked about this issue and said that nobody can get us out of Syria unless the Syrian leadership asked us to do so.

President Assad: The battle is long and ongoing. When we talk about this tripartite alliance – and if we consider it a quadruple alliance when we add Hezbollah, we talk about the tripartite alliance in terms of the states included, but in the end Hezbollah is a basic element in this war – the battle is long, and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time. When there is a need, and when Hezbollah, Iran, or others believe that terrorism has been eliminated, they will tell us that they want to go home. As Sayyed Hasan said, they have families and daily interests, which is normal, but it is still early to talk about this subject.

Question 21: Up till now, there are still areas under the control of terrorism and areas under occupation. At the same time, regretfully, some Arab countries, and here I am talking particularly about Saudi Arabia, announced that it is ready to send forcers to Syria. On the other hand, a few days ago popular tribal units were formed to resist occupation. Are these really popular resistance units? Do they receive support from the Syrian government? Does this mean that the army cannot liberate those areas, and that’s why it is asking for the help of the tribes? What is the nature of this issue?

President Assad: There are different forms of this resistance which appeared a few years ago. In the beginning they were fighting ISIS before they started to fight the occupiers. They were against ISIS in the central and eastern regions, and there were cases where they appeared in other regions which were not given media coverage and about which we hear sometimes through information and indications.

Now, this situation has started to expand. So, it’s not one single case. There are a number of cases which might be individual sometimes, or in the form of small groups not affiliated to an organization. In any case, our position as a state has been from the beginning to support any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces, regardless of their nationality, i.e. American, French, Turkish, or Israeli. We support these resistance forces based on our national role as a government.

Question 22: What about Saudi Arabia and sending Saudi forces to Syria?

President Assad: First, when we talk about a state, we should assume that such a state can take decisions independently. That’s why we will not talk about the role of Saudi Arabia. You better ask me about the American decision on this issue.

Question 23: On the other hand, there are a number of Arab countries which we talk about and which had a role or contributed to the role or to the destruction of Syria. These countries are now trying to get to Syria through the reconstruction process. What do you say in this regard, particularly that these countries are the ones which have capital and huge financial power? How are you going to deal with that?

President Assad: Reconstruction in Syria is not a cause for concern for us. It needs two factors: first, the human factor which is more important than the financial factor. When a country like Syria possesses the human factor, the financial cost will be less when it comes to reconstruction. This is self-evident, and we possess all these factors despite the fact that many competent and qualified Syrians have immigrated because of the war.

But we still have the capability to start reconstruction. And the evidence is clear now, for the state is moving forward and reconstruction has begun. As to money, the Syrian people have financial capabilities, capital, most of which is not in Syria, but outside Syria. But there is capital waiting for reconstruction to begin, so it will begin investing. On the other hand, there are the friendly countries which have capabilities and have the desire; and we have the desire to have them participate in reconstruction, so that they benefit and we Syrians benefit from this process. In the end, we do not need those countries and we will never allow them to be part of reconstruction.

Journalist: Never?

President Assad: Absolutely.

Journalist: Not even if there was a need in this regard, I mean in terms of financial resources?

President Assad: Financial resources are not everything. As I said, this is available. There are different sources in the world and in Syria for capital.

Question 24: With these tough years, we are talking about the legendary steadfastness of the Syrian Army, the Syrian people, the Armed Forces. If you wanted to talk about two cases, the most difficult case or incident that you have encountered during these years, and on the other hand the best and most beautiful case.

President Assad: It is natural, at the heart of the military battle, for the best and worst cases to be linked to the development of the military battle. If I say that the worst cases were when terrorists used to control a certain area, this is self-evident, but it is related more to specific battles, particularly when the area is strategic or the city is big with a large population. Consequently, the impact will be much greater psychologically and in terms of morale.

But there was an ongoing situation which we are still living and we must think about: when a martyr or a group of martyrs fall, and this is ongoing on a weekly basis for us, we must think that a family lost a dear one who cannot be compensated. He might be compensated by achieving victory at a certain stage, but on the family, psychological and human level, you cannot compensate a dear one lost to a certain family, or maybe a friend. This is a very painful situation which we have lived and continue to live. This will not stop until the war itself stops. But there were painful cases at the beginning of the war, when you see this huge lack of patriotism. They were perhaps a minority, but a large minority, of individuals who were prepared to sell the homeland and trade it together with their principles, if they had ones, in return for money or a certain interest, in addition to a certain percentage of extremism.

On the other hand, there were victories, particularly when victories started in the city of al-Qsair in 2013, and culminated in the city of Aleppo in 2016, that was the beginning of the major victories. That was followed by Deir Ezzor, and today we are living the joy of liberating Damascus and its countryside. This is a situation we have all lived through, and you were with us, and I am sure you feel the same joy.

Question 25: Have you felt tired at a certain moment? Have you felt hesitant at a certain moment, in light of all the decisions you have taken, have you ever, even for a moment, thought of leaving? Haven’t you said to yourself: let me save my family and resign, as some people did at a certain point in time?

President Assad: This question might be raised in a personal manner. When I am faced with a personal situation as an individual, I might feel despair after a few months. I might feel tired or bored or I might want to move to a different situation, or give up. That is possible.

Journalist: As an individual?

President Assad: Of course, as an individual, but the case you are proposing is not personal, it is national. Imagine yourself in a different condition, perhaps building something on your own. You feel tired, but when you see a large number of people helping you build it and share the same determination, you forget the tiredness.

Now we are in a national situation. We are talking about millions of Syrians. When you see a shell striking and victims falling anywhere in Syria, you feel frustrated. But when you see life being restored to the same area after one hour, your psychological condition changes. When you see that the electricity worker, the oil worker, the teacher, the employee, are moving side by side with fighters, moving without despair and without tiredness, how can you feel tired? This is a collective condition not related to me as a person. It has to do with our human condition when we are together as a society. How do we live? This defines whether you are tired or not. Would the Syrian society have arrived at this stage of despair and surrender, I would certainly have been with it. I would have surrendered because I do not have the necessary elements for steadfastness. This is self-evident.

Journalist: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for giving us this opportunity, and for your candidness in answering these questions. Thank you very much.

(13 June 2018)

SOURCE |  https://sana.sy/en/?p=140166

VIDEO IN ARABIC:

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President al-Assad to Mail on Sunday: UK publicly supported White Helmets that are a branch of Al-Qaeda

10 June 2018





President Bashar al-Assad said that the UK publicly supported the White Helmets that are a branch of Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra in different areas of Syria, stressing that Syria considers the White Helmets to be a PR stunt by the UK.

In an interview given to Britan's Mail on Sunday, published on Sunday morning, President al-Assad asserted that the alleged chemical attack in Douma was staged by the UK, France, and the US.

He also said that there had been communications from different intelligence agencies in Europe, but it was stopped recently because they’re not serious.

His Excellency stressed that the presence of the US and the UK in Syria is illegal and constitutes invasion as it breaches the sovereignty of Syria.

President Assad affirmed that Syria is the main party who’s been fighting ISIS, and that every inch of Syrian territory will be liberated.

He asserted that the only decision about what’s going on in Syria and what’s going to happen is a Syrian decision, and no one should have any doubt about this.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, as of the 31st of March 2018, the total sum of funding that the British government supplied to the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, is GBP 38.4 million. At the same time, Russia accuses Britain of helping stage the attack that took place in Douma via this organization, the White Helmets. Do you, as Syria’s President, believe that’s true?

President Assad: Definitely, without a doubt. Britain, France, and the US are following and adopting the same policy. That said, to be completely frank and stark, Britain and France are political satellites to the US. The UK publicly supported the White Helmets that are a branch of Al Qaeda, al-Nusra, in different areas of Syria. They (Britain) spent a lot of money, and we consider the White Helmets to be a PR stunt by the UK. So yes, definitely, it was staged by these three countries together, and the UK is involved.

Question 2: British Prime Minister Theresa May said she had no doubt the Syrian regime was behind the April 7 chemical attacks and told her critics that Britain’s participation had been right and legal and permitted under international law to alleviate humanitarian suffering. Do states not have a responsibility to protect against war crimes? How is the UK participation in strikes against Syria not justified under international law?

President Assad: So, according to her statements, when Britain and the US attacked Iraq illegally in 2003, killed millions, caused mass destruction, let alone the number of widows and amputees – according to May’s logic, any government has the right to attack the UK or the US if it thought the act was justified, legal and allowed under international law to alleviate human suffering. This is first.

Second, they told a lie; they didn’t provide their own public opinion – the British public – any evidence. After we liberated al-Ghouta, where the alleged attack happened, many foreign journalists, some of them against the Syrian government, asked local people about the chemical attack, and they said “we didn’t see any chemical attack, it didn’t happen.” It was a lie, especially after we liberated that area, our information confirmed that that attack did not take place. The British government should first prove with evidence that the attack happened, and then they should prove who is responsible – of course this did not happen.

There was no attack; this is where the lie begins. Again, it wasn’t about the attack; the crux of the issue is that they need to undermine the Syrian government, as they needed to change and topple the Syrian government at the beginning of the events of the war in Syria. They keep failing, they keep telling lies, and they continue to play a war of attrition against our government.
.

Question 3: Unconfirmed reports have circulated that the Syrian government captured Western regular forces, as well as British fighters. Can you confirm this or shed light on these reports?

President Assad: There are fighters from all over the world helping the Jihadists. I wouldn’t say we have British fighters who are alive. Most of those fighters, they are dead, they came here to die and to go to paradise, that’s their ideology.

Journalist: But you confirm that they’re dead, and they were from these countries?

President Assad: Yes.

Question 4: Have there been any attempts, even through mediators or third parties, by the British government or its intelligence branches to establish communications with Syria for intelligence for whatever reason?

President Assad: No. We did have communications from different intelligence agencies in Europe, but it was stopped recently because they’re not serious. They want to exchange information despite their governments being politically against ours, so we said when you have a political umbrella for this kind of cooperation, or let’s say when you change your political position, we’re ready. Now, there’s no cooperation with any European intelligence agencies including the British.

Question 5: But there’s been no attempts by Britain to try and open lines of communication, as far as you know, even through mediators?

President Assad: Even if there is a kind of an attempt, we don’t discuss it; it’s trivial, whether there is or not.

Question 6: What are your views on May and Trump’s handling of issues in the Middle East, and in Syria specifically, and what’s the difference between their interventions in the region and those of Putin?

President Assad: Big difference: The Russians were invited by the Syrian government, their existence in Syria is a legitimate existence, the same for the Iranians. While for the United States, the UK, it is illegal, it is an invasion, they are breaching the sovereignty of Syria – a sovereign country. So, their existence is not legal at all, it is an illegitimate existence.

Journalist: But in your view, how have they handled Syria, both May and Trump?

President Assad: It’s not about May and Trump; it’s about the Western politicians in general, the Western regimes in general. They don’t accept anyone who has a different point of view, any country, any government, any personality. That’s the case with Syria; Syria is very independent in its political positions, we work for our national interests, we’re not a puppet state. They don’t accept this reality. So, the whole approach toward Syria in the West is “we have to change this government, we have to demonize this president, because they don’t suit our policies anymore.” This is the situation, everything else is like flavors; they tell lies, they talk about chemical weapons, they talk about the bad president killing the good people, freedom, peaceful demonstration; all these lies are flavors for the main goal, which is regime change.

So, my answer to your question about how I see it is: this is colonial policy, that’s how we see it, and this is not new. They have never changed this policy since the old way of colonialism that existed in the beginning of the 20th century and the 19th century and before, but today it’s covered by, let’s say, a new mask, or different masks.

Question 7: Your main global adversaries today are Trump, Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a lineup of unusual, unpopular characters. Are you suddenly looking good by comparison?

President Assad: I cannot compare myself to anyone, because I wouldn’t be objective judging myself, so you better ask this question to others. But when you want to have an objective answer, you have to look for the real facts, not the propaganda that’s been circulating in the Western media now for seven years. So, at the end, for me I don’t care how I look in comparison to those; for me it’s important how I look in the eyes of the Syrian people, that’s my focus.

Question 8: In 2013, you told me “Syria lies at the fault line geographically, politically, socially, and ideologically,” and warned that playing with this fault line will have serious repercussions across the Middle East and Europe.

President Assad: Yes, we’re at the fault line, the last five years have proven that I was right, because look at the repercussions all over the world, look at the terrorism spreading all over the world because of the chaos that is supported by the West in Syria. Look at the different attacks in Europe, in UK, in France, other countries. Look at the refugee crisis in Europe. That’s because of the fault line that I talked about five years ago.

Question 9: Five years on since you told me this, or since you said that, during which ISIS was born, you seem to see yourself as the main bulwark against it, why is that?


President Assad: For ISIS, we are the main party who’s been fighting ISIS with support by the Russians and Iranians during the past years. No other party is doing the same, even partially. If you want to talk about the West and the Western military alliance led by the Americans, actually it has been supporting ISIS, because they’ve been attacking the Syrian Army whenever we attack or we’ve been attacked by ISIS; the last incident happened only days ago, when ISIS attacked the Syrian Army and of course we defeated them, and in response the Americans attacked our troops in the eastern part of Syria.

Question 10: Was the world wrong in isolating you for the last seven years?

President Assad: The concept of isolating a country in general is wrong. In the world, in the modern politics, even in the olden days’ politics, you need communications. When you isolate a country, you isolate yourself from the reality in that country, so you’re becoming politically blind. So, the concept is wrong.

Question 11: Mr. President, some regard you as an international pariah, a dictator, with blood on your hands, give me an argument for why you are not, when in the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed, arrested, imprisoned, and even tortured?

President Assad: So, the story that you’re talking about, or let’s say the Western narrative, that this is a bad president; he’s killing his own people, and the whole world is against him because he’s an international pariah, but he’s been in his position for seven years while he’s fighting everyone in this world. Can you convince your readers about this story? It doesn’t even hold together, I mean the different factors of this narrative, it’s not logical, it’s not realistic. So, this president is in his position because he has the support of his own people, so how could he have this support while he’s killing these same people? So, the story is not correct. We are fighting the terrorists, and those terrorists are supported by the British government, the French government, the Americans and their puppets whether in Europe or in our region. We are fighting them, and we have public support in Syria to fight those terrorists. That’s why we are advancing. We cannot make these advances just because we have Russian and Iranian support; they cannot substitute the popular support, and the proof of what I’m talking about: Shah of Iran, the Western puppet, he couldn’t withstand the backlash of the Iranian people, and he collapsed, the whole system collapsed in a few weeks, and he had to flee his country.

Question 12: But despite having support of many Syrians, the fact remains that there are thousands, tens of thousands of people that were killed, and have been imprisoned.

President Assad: Of course, you’re talking about a war; there is no good war, there is no peaceful war. That’s why war is bad. So, when you talk about war, the natural and the self-evident result is death and blood everywhere, but the question is: who started this war, and who supported this war? The West. The West supported the war from the very beginning, and it supported the terrorists who started exploding everywhere and killing everywhere and everyone and beheading. The West supported Al Qaeda. So, it’s not enough to say there is killing. Of course, there is killing; that’s self-evident, but who started? The West is responsible first of all.

Question 13: The West is responsible, but some also say that Mr. Assad or President Assad should bear responsibility as well.

President Assad: Any Syrian could bear responsibility because of what’s happening in Syria. That’s another issue, this is a Syrian issue, we don’t discuss it with the West. It’s not the role of the West to tell us who’s responsible in Syria, the president or the government or the army or the terrorists, this is a Syrian issue; we decide who. The West is in no position to tell us, at the end, it’s not its role, but it interfered in a sovereign country and is responsible of the killing in our country, regardless of its narrative and its lies.
.

Question 14: Russia appears to be making a lot of decisions about Syria, whether about foreign troops withdrawing to deals being struck with Israel over southern Syria, to which weapons you may or may not have. Does Russia now make your decisions?

President Assad: Russia is fighting for the international law, and part of this international law is the sovereignty of different countries, of the sovereign countries, Syria is one of them. Their politics, their behaviors, their values are not about interfere or dictate; they don’t. We’ve had good relations with Russia for more than six decades now, nearly seven decades. They never, during our relation, try to dictate, even if there are differences; because there is a war and because there’s high dynamism now in the region, it’s natural to have differences between the different parties, whether within our government or other governments; Russia-Syria, Syria-Iran, Iran-Russia, and within these governments, that’s very natural, but at the end the only decision about what’s going on in Syria and what’s going to happen, it’s a Syrian decision. No one should have any doubt about this, regardless of the statements that you may hear, because I know on which base the question is.

Journalist: Based on various statements.

President Assad: Exactly.

Question 15: So, why has Russia not given you the S300 they promised for years, at a time when Israel is striking Syria practically every week, and why is Russia coordinating these strikes’ targets behind the scenes with your enemies?

President Assad: Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that’s contradiction; how could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?

Journalist: But they usually know in advance where the attacks are going to happen…

President Assad: No, no, that’s not true, that’s not true, definitely. We know the details. Regarding the S300, why they announced it and then they stopped talking about it, you better ask the Russian officials. It’s a political statement, they have their own tactics. But whether they send it or they’re going to send it or not, this is a military issue; we don’t talk about it.

Question 16: Senior Pentagon officials have warned they will militarily retaliate should you mess with their alliance. Are you ever going to get rid of the US military presence in Syria, are you prepared to fight them directly?

President Assad: Since the beginning of the war, the Americans and their allies haven’t stopped threatening Syria, they haven’t stopped supporting the terrorists, and they haven’t stopped attacking us directly on numerous occasions. But in spite of this we have been advancing against the terrorists, and we have said that we’re going to liberate every inch of Syria regardless of any statement or any attack. This is our land and this is our duty; it’s not a political opinion, it’s a national duty. We’re going to advance in that direction regardless of the military or political position of our adversaries.

Question 17: You’ve said that you will take back every inch of Syrian territory, how long you anticipate this will take you?

President Assad: This is not only about the Syrian Army and the terrorists, or about the events within the border of our country, otherwise I would have given you, let’s say, maybe a precise timeframe. But I have always said that in less than a year we can solve this conflict, it’s not very complicated. What has made it complicated is the external interference. The more we advance, the more support the terrorists have from the West. Look, for example, we were about to achieve reconciliation in the southern part of Syria only two weeks ago, but the West interfered and asked the terrorists not to follow this path in order to prolong the Syrian conflict. So, we think the more advances we make politically and militarily, the more the West, especially US, UK, and France, will try to prolong it and make the solution farther from the Syrians. But in spite of this, we are closing the gap between the two.

Question 18: Mr. President, in three years’ time, you will come to the end of your presidency term now, and it’s been a long seven years and the next two years, do you think you will be running again as president, or you will call it a day and decide that it’s time for you to take a break?

President Assad: It’s still early to talk about it; you’re talking about three years from now. Three years on, no one knows how the situation is going to be in our country. If I’m going to run for the presidency, there are two factors: First of all, will – personal will to take responsibility, and second – which is the most important, the will of the Syrian people. Do they accept that person? Is the mood about me as president still the same, or will the Syrian people change their position? So, in three years, we will have to look at these two factors and then decide whether it’s appropriate or not.

Question 19: How do you think history will remember you?

President Assad: It depends on which history: The Western history? It’s going to be skewed; it’s going to tell lies and lies and lies; the same lies that we have heard not only about our present but also about the past. Our history on the other hand, which I care about, I hope it will remember me as somebody who fought the terrorists to save his country, and that was my duty as president.

Question 20: With the World Cup around the corner, do you have a favorite team?

President Assad: In these circumstances, yes, my favorite team is the Syrian Army, to fight the terrorists.

Journalist: Any favorite British teams, football teams?

President Assad: No, I don’t follow.

Question 21: It’s been seven years of war, what do you do to let off steam, any hobbies?

President Assad: Sports is not a hobby, it becomes a part of your health, and a part of your daily routine, because good health is important to staying active. So, we cannot look at it as entertainment; there’s no time or mood for entertainment. You’re living with the war, the killing, with terrorism. So, this is the only hobby that has become a habit, a daily habit depending on the time and circumstances.

Question 22: Your wife is British, and you’ve lived in London for many years, is there anything in particular that you miss from your days there?

President Assad: I lived in London, I learned as a doctor. It’s impossible for you to live in a city and you don’t feel there is a special link with that city or with the people that you work with on a daily basis. So, you miss maybe this relation, but you live sometimes in contradiction; that the same city that you like is the same country that’s been attacking your country, which is not good.

Journalist: Thank you very much Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you.

(10 June 2018)

SOURCEhttps://sana.sy/en/?p=139864


VIDEO:
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The cause and instigation of the war on Syria


A condensed and referenced analysis of the cause and instigation of the war on Syria, by Angelis Dania.


As anyone seriously following the war in Syria will be aware, leaked and declassified US cables and emails have demonstrated that this proxy war for regime-change was in the planning from before the end of 2006, with the documents citing the use of false propaganda, incitement of sectarian division, and the use of terrorist proxy forces to achieve the toppling of the Syrian government for the benefit of Israel, among other reasons.

[DOD Information Report - Syria]

[Influencing the SARG in the end of 2006]

[Hillary Clinton email: New Iran and Syria 2]

US funding for the Syrian opposition and subversive measures against the Syrian government began years before the instigation of the war in March 2011, and helped to pave the way.

[USG funding Syrian Opposition - 2006]

[WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath]

Despite these revelations, anti-Assad analysts, journalists, and activists continue perpetuating the same narrative without accounting for the implications of this exposed US involvement. The fact that the US was plotting regime-change in Syria with the use of false propaganda should colour every report on events in Syria, subjecting them to the need for review in light of the now established pre-existing US regime-change campaign.

Particularly, reports from any activists, NGOs (such as the White Helmets), and armed groups in Syria that have any affiliation with or funding from the US government or its agencies, partners, or allies, should be flagged as having a conflict of interest, and as being from sources partisan to the US regime-change campaign in Syria.

[US funding for White Helmets]

The essential component of the anti-Assad narrative that should come under scrutiny as a result, first and foremost, is the premise that the war in Syria began with a “brutal regime crackdown on peaceful protesters”.

Given that subversive and deceitful tactics were declared in the US “regime-change manifesto” for Syria, and given also that the US has precedents of inventing pretexts for war, it then follows that the alleged crackdown on allegedly peaceful protesters was also a contrived pretext to instigate this regime-change war.

One of the Syrian eyewitnesses to the events at the beginning of this war, Jesuit priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, stated that “I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents”

[Testimony of Father Frans van der Lugt]
(ps: You can use Google Translator to translate to English - also copied down at the end of the article)
https://mediawerkgroepsyrie.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/bij-defaitisme-is-niemand-gebaat/

It should be critically noted that the Syrian government responded to the protests by collating the reform demands of the Syrian people, and then implementing them into legislation. Perhaps the most significant of these came in the form of a new democratic constitution that was voted in by national referendum, and which included provisions for a multi-party system and presidential elections.

Parliamentary and internationally observed presidential elections were then held in accordance with the nationally ratified constitution, giving Syrians the opportunity to vote for a President other than Dr. Bashar Al-Assad. President Assad won the elections by a large majority, and with a voter turnout of over 70%. The independent observers of the election gave their report to the UN in New York.

[June 2014 election results]

[Election observers report to the UN]
https://youtu.be/ZnFQd4wBXnk

If the aim of the opposition is to remove President Assad from power, and if they claim that this is the will of most Syrians, then an independently observed election was an opportunity too good to refuse, to achieve their goal in a peaceful way.

The opposition refused to participate in the elections, just as they refused dialogue with the Syrian government at every stage in this conflict, and refused to join the reform protesters who took part in the political process that brought about the reforms.

When you observe the massively popular support that President Bashar Hafez Al-Assad has on the streets of Syria, it is no wonder that the opposition did not see the elections as an opportunity to achieve the US backed goal of regime-change.

[Mass country-wide pro-Assad rallies]



END.

[[by Angelis Dania ~ 5 June 2016 ]

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Testimony of Father Frans van der Lugt]

No one benefits from defeatism  - January 13, 2012




Report by Pater van der Lugt about the situation in Homs

We are obliged to be nuanced by the citizens of Syria. Otherwise their battle is lost.

There are many people here who truly believe that we can move forward with this government, that it is capable of reforming (see the President's last speech) and that it may be more democratic than any alternates.

Most citizens in Syria do not support the opposition. This even claims a country like Qatar after a poll. That is why you can not say that this is a popular uprising. The majority of the people are not in revolt and certainly not in armed uprising. It is mainly a battle between the army and armed Sunni groups, which aim at the fall of the alawian regime and the takeover of power.

From the beginning, the protest movements have not been purely peaceful. From the beginning I have seen armed demonstrators walk in those demonstrations, who were the first to shoot the police. Very often the violence of the security services is a reaction to the cruel violence of the armed insurgents.

It is not certain that the government plays the two groups (Sunnis and Alawites) against each other. In Homs it is the other way around. The army ensures that the two groups do not go into bloody battle with each other. If the army leaves, we have a civil war here in Homs.

Bachar al-Assad never demanded the support of the Christian leaders. Most of them are behind him because they are convinced that they are worse with a different solution.

Father Frans van der Lugt from Homs. 
January 13, 2012.
==================================================

Video | Pres. Assad interview with RT - 30 May 2018



                                     Video of the full interview - 30 May 2018

Washington and its “puppets” tried, and failed, to destroy Syria – and the US military will eventually be forced out of the country: These are a few of the highlights from RT’s exclusive interview with President Bashar Assad.

Speaking with RT’s Murad Gazdiev in Damascus, Assad commented on a range of topics, from the threat of direct conflict between the US and Russia, to why he doesn’t fear Israeli assassination threats.

On Victory: ‘It’s self-evident’ that Syria is ‘moving closer to the end of the conflict’

Assad noted that the “majority” of Syria is now under government control, but said that continued provocations and escalations by the United States and its allies have needlessly prolonged the seven-year conflict. With each Syrian military victory or successful reconciliation effort, the US and its partners have attempted to counteract these gains by “supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists to Syria, or by hindering the political process,” Assad said.

However, he stated that it was “self-evident” that “we are moving closer to the end of the conflict,” adding that “without external interference it won’t take more than a year to settle the situation in Syria.”

The Syrian leader said that whenever possible, his government has chosen negotiations and reconciliation over use of force.

“War is the worst choice but sometimes you only have this choice,” Assad told RT. “Factions like Al-Qaeda, like ISIS, like Al-Nusra, and the like-minded groups, they’re not ready for any dialogue… So, the only option to deal with those factions is force.”

He defended the government’s use of ceasefires and allowing extremists to withdraw to Idlib province, describing the agreements as strategically advantageous for the Syrian army. “If you have two or three frontiers, that’s better than having 10, maybe more than 100 at the time.”

On the US: Washington ‘losing its cards’ in Syria

Although the US forces continue to operate illegally in Syria, they will eventually be forced out of the country, Assad told RT.

“We’re going to use two methods to deal with the SDF: The first one, we started opening doors for negotiations – because the majority of them are Syrians. And supposedly they like their country, they don’t like being puppets to any foreigners – that’s what we suppose.”Assad said that these commonly-shared values could allow reconciliation with the government. “We all don’t trust the Americans, [so] the one option is to live with each other as Syrians.” However, if negotiations fail, the Syrian army will be forced to liberate areas occupied by the SDF, with the Americans, or without the Americans.”“The United States is losing its cards. The main card was Al-Nusra, that was called ‘moderate,’ but when scandals started leaking that they’re not moderate, that they’re Al-Qaeda, which is supposed to be fought by the United States, they started looking for another card. This card is the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] now,” he said, referring to the US-backed militia group. According to Assad, once Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Nusra are exterminated, the Syrian military will turn its attention on the SDF.

On this point Assad was adamant: “This is our land, it’s our right, it’s our duty. To liberate [these areas], and 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.”


On Russia: Moscow’s leadership prevented ‘direct conflict’ with US military

Syria’s president heaped praise on Moscow, claiming that Russian “wisdom” had prevented a direct conflict between Russian and American forces in Syria. “We were close to having direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces, and fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership.”

While Assad reiterated that the United States military was not welcome in Syria, he said that avoiding escalation was the key to restoring Syria’s territorial integrity. “We need the Russian support, but we need, at the same time to avoid the American foolishness in order to be able to stabilize our country.”

He emphasized that Russia has shown restraint – not weakness – in Syria, noting how Russian warnings had likely dissuaded Trump from launching a full-scale attack against Damascus.

“The Russians announced publicly that they are going to destroy the bases that are going to be used to launch missiles, and our information – we don’t have evidence, we only have information, and that information is credible information – that they were thinking about a comprehensive attack all over Syria, and that’s why the threat pushed the West to make it on a much smaller scale,” the Syrian president said.

On Israel: No longer phased by ‘threat of Israeli aggression,’ Tel Aviv in ‘panic’

Assad shrugged off Israeli threats against his own life, telling Gazdiev that “my generation – and most of the generations in Syria now – has lived under the threat of Israeli aggression. This is something in our unconscious feeling. So to say that you are afraid while living with the same threat for decades – this is nonsense.” He said that the fact that Tel Aviv has resorted to threats suggests that the Israelis are panicking.

“The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threaten in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling because they are losing the ‘dear ones,’ the dear ones Al-Nusra and ISIS, that’s why Israel is panicking recently, and we understand their feeling.”

He said reports that Syria was helpless to stop Israeli airstrikes were inaccurate. “Our air defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation” than at the start of the conflict seven years ago, he said. However, Assad noted that when foreign-backed fighters first poured into Syria, the first thing they did was target air defense systems – suggesting a “direct link” between the terrorists groups and Israel.

On chemical attacks: ‘Is it in our interest? Why? And why now?’

Syria’s president described the string of alleged chemical attacks as provocations that have ultimately failed to persuade the international community to give the US and its allies a military mandate in Syria.

“The timing of this alleged strike was after the victory of the Syrian troops in Ghouta. Let alone the fact that we don’t have chemical weapons anyway,” he told RT. Pointing to multiple reports of civilians and medical workers in the area having no knowledge of a chemical attack – with some even appearing in the Western press – Assad concluded that the alleged incident was a last-ditch Western attempt to sway international opinion – one that failed.Washington and its allies blamed the last such attack, in April, on Damascus, but Assad insisted that the Western narrative makes no sense.

“They told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn’t buy their story, but they couldn’t withdraw. So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale,”Assad said, referring to the joint airstrikes against purported Syrian chemical weapons facilities, carried out on April 14 by the US, UK, and France.

However, Assad acknowledged that nothing was stopping Washington from attempting similar provocations in the future. The US has “trampled on international law,” and “there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen [again].”

Assad asked: “What was the legal basis of [the April missile] attack? [Or] the so-called anti-terrorist alliance, which supports the terrorists, actually? What is the legal basis of their attack on Yemen, Afghanistan? There’s no legal basis.”

On Trump: ‘What you say is what you are’

Asked if he had a nickname for US President Donald Trump, who had previously called Assad an “animal,” Syria’s leader admitted that he wasn’t in the business of name-calling.

“This is not my language, so, I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him,” he said. “I think there is a very well known principle, that what you say is what you are. So, he wanted to represent what he is, and that’s normal,” Assad added.

“The only thing that moves you is what people that you trust, people who are level-headed, people who are thoughtful, people who are moral, ethical, that's what should move anything inside you, whether positive or negative. Somebody like Trump will move nothing for me,” he said.


On the myth of Syria’s ‘civil’ war: It was foreign-backed regime change

Assad disputed claims that the seven-year conflict has been a “civil war,” pointing out that there is no sectarian or ethnic conflicts in the areas currently controlled by the government. “Now in Damascus, in Aleppo, in Homs, in every area under Syrian government control, you will see [the whole] spectrum of Syrian society. With no exceptions.”

He noted that the term ‘civil war’ had been used widely since the beginning of the conflict in Syria – but it does not correctly characterize the conflict.

“A Syrian civil war means there are lines based either on ethnicities or sects or religion. Or maybe political opinion. In reality, in the areas in direct control by the government, which is now the majority of Syria, you have all this diversity,”Assad said. “So the word civil war is not correct. What we have actually, from the very beginning – mercenaries, Syrians and foreigners being paid by the West in order to topple the government. This is the mere reality. Everything else is just a mask to cover the real intentions.”

https://www.rt.com/news/428395-assad-interview-rt-highlights-syria/

RT's interview with Syrian President Assad - 31 May 2018

‘We were close to direct conflict between Russia & US inside Syria’ – Bashar Assad

President Bashar al-Assad has said that with every move forward for the Syrian Army, and for the political process, and for the whole situation, forward in the positive meaning, towards more stability, our enemies and our opponents, mainly the West led by the United States and their puppets in Europe and the region, with their mercenaries in Syria, they try to make it farther, either by supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists to Syria, or by hindering the political process.

In an interview given to RT, President al-Assad added that after the liberation of Aleppo and later Deir Ezzor, and before that Homs, and now Damascus, actually the United States is losing its cards where the main card was al-Nusra that was called “moderate.” But when the scandal started leaking, that al-Nusra is part of Al Qaida that was supposed to be fought by the United States, they looked for another card. This card is the SDF now.

President al-Assad said: We’re going to deal with SDF by two options: the first one, we started now opening doors for negotiations, this is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to liberating by force, to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans.

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 the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore, President al-Assad added.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, thank you very much for inviting us here, for giving us this opportunity, having spent years now traveling to and through Syria reporting from here, it is an honor to finally meet you. But, Mr. President, since time is short, first question: your latest victories in Ghouta, in Yarmouk, they have drastically changed the situation on the ground in Syria. How much near the end of this war are we now in your estimation?

President Assad: First of all, you’re most welcome in Syria. With every move forward in the battlefield, with every victory, with every liberated area, we are moving closer to the end of the conflict, and I always said without external interference it won’t take more than a year to settle the situation in Syria. But at the same time, with every move forward for the Syrian Army, and for the political process, and for the whole situation – forward in the positive meaning, towards more stability – our enemies and our opponents, mainly the West led by the United States and their puppets in Europe and in our region, with their mercenaries in Syria, they try to make it farther, either by supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists coming to Syria, or by hindering the political process. So, our challenge is how can we to close this gap between their plans and our plans, and I think we are succeeding in that regard, but at the same time, it’s difficult for anyone to tell you when. But it is getting closer, that’s self-evident.

Question 2: Your latest military victories, they have been – objectively speaking – spectacular; the speed at which rebel defenses that have withstood for years have collapsed. Are you planning on retaking all of Syria by force? We’re talking about Idleb, the borders with Israel, SDF-controlled territories.

President Assad: The war is the worst choice. I think every Syrian agrees upon this fact. But sometimes you only have this choice, especially when you talk about factions like Al Qaida, like ISIS, like al-Nusra, and the like-minded factions – actually most of them have the same ideology; Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Cham, and so on – they’re not ready for any dialogue, they don’t have any political plan; they only have this dark ideological plan, which is to be like any Al Qaida-controlled area anywhere in this world. So, the only option to deal with those factions is force. At the same time, in other areas, we succeeded by implementing reconciliations, especially when the community in those different areas made pressure on those militants to leave those areas. So, I think the best choice is to make reconciliation. This is our plan. But when it doesn’t work, the only method to resort to is the force.





Question 3: With regards to reconciliation, how wise is it to send all of these veteran jihadists with their small arms to Idleb? By now, tens of thousands have gone to Idleb, they have consolidated, they have built defenses. Eventually, as you say, you’ll have to fight them. On the other hand, are you perhaps planning on building an area that is outside of government control?

President Assad: Actually, we always say we’re going to liberate every area, so it’s impossible for us to intentionally leave any area on the Syrian soil outside our control as government. This is natural. And as you know, Idleb was captured by the terrorists in 2015 with the Turkish support. It was mainly captured by al-Nusra and some other supportive factions. Actually, we started the reconciliations before that time, but every reconciliation that happened after that time, after 2015- it was, I think, May 2015- every faction wanted to leave the city or the village, they choose to go to Idleb. This is a very good indication that they have the same ideology, because they choose to go to al-Nusra area, they didn’t choose to go to any other area. So, we didn’t send people to Idleb; they wanted to go there, because they have the same incubator, they have the same atmosphere, way of thinking, and so on.

This is one part, the other part, which is the military aspect of your question; the plan of the terrorists and their masters was to distract the Syrian Army by scattering the different units all over the Syrian soil, which is not good for any army. Our plan was to put them in one area, two areas, three areas. Let’s say, if you have two or three or four frontiers, better than having tens, or maybe more than one hundred frontiers at the same time. So, militarily, it is better. They chose it, but it’s better for us from the military point of view.

Question 4: On the other hand, talking about similar mindsets, Idleb is predominantly… the rebels there overwhelmingly are Sunni. As a Sunni myself, I have a long distant relative who came to Syria to fight against you, to resist you, because he was told that you were targeting… you were killing Sunnis, and that is what many people in Idleb believe. Why is it that so many people in all these different countries, in America, in Russia, these Sunnis, these Muslims, they believe that you are oppressing them?

President Assad: Because the first narrative when it started, internationally – mainly in the West, of course – and within Syria and in some mainstream medias in our region and in the West, their plan was to create this rift within the society. That will make things easier for them; “when you have such a civil, kind of civil war between sects or ethnicities,” and it failed. Now, they keep using the same narrative, at least to encourage some fanatics in different places in the world to come and defend their “brothers” in this area, because that’s how they imagine; they imagine that there is conflict between sects. So, because of their narrow-minded way of thinking, maybe, or their ignorance, they came here just to support their “brothers”. Now, if I’m going to tell you this is right or wrong, your audience doesn’t’ know me, they don’t have any idea maybe about my credibility, but I’ll tell you, you know Syria very well, it’s better to go and see the reality on the ground. Now, if there’s such a narrative, let’s say, in reality, sect killing another sect, Syria should be divided now according to sectarian lines. You should come to this area under our control and see one color or a few colors of the Syrian society, you should go to the other area where you have the terrorists, you should have different colors, and the reality is not like this. Now, in Damascus, in Aleppo, in Homs, in every area under the Syrian government’s control, you’ll see every spectrum of the Syrian society, with no exceptions. So, this reality will debunk this narrative. I mean, how could they live with each other while the government is killing them according to sectarian basis? It doesn’t work.

Question 5: Fair enough, but with regards to negotiations and reconciliation, there have been efforts to start talks to achieve a result in Geneva, in Astana. There has been limited success, but it hasn’t been all that great. Now, let’s be honest, you’re winning, you’re winning on the ground, your forces are advancing, the rebels are in retreat. Why would you negotiate with them now, that they’re losing?

President Assad: Since the very beginning, we said whenever we can save Syrian blood, we have to go forward and deal with any initiative, any kind of initiative, even if they have bad will. Some initiatives have bad will, but in spite of that, we dealt with them. And the reality now, if you go around Syria, the reality, the results that’s been embodied by the reconciliations is proof of what I’m saying. Without this policy, without this intention of saving blood, negotiating, talking to people, we couldn’t have reached these reconciliations.

This is one thing. The other thing, not everyone who fought the government have the same basis; some of them have ideological background, some of them for financial background, some of them they made a mistake in the very beginning, they were forced to go in that direction, and they couldn’t withdraw, so you have to open the doors, and you have to distinguish between different kinds of people. And the most important than this, is the majority of the people who were against the government – apparently – in the different liberated areas, actually, in their hearts they are with the government, because they could tell the difference between having government and having chaos.

Question 6: Well, with regards to talks and, you know, retaking areas by force, let’s take for example SDF-controlled territories in Deir Ezzor. There have been clashes there between troops who are loyal to you and the SDF itself, the United States’ partners, and the United States brought to bear force, to stop troops loyal to you from taking territories. This has happened with al-Tanf as well. How are you going to deal with the United States’ presence, military presence, in Syria?

President Assad: After the liberation of Aleppo and later Deir Ezzor, and before that Homs, and now Damascus, actually the United States is losing its cards. The main card was al-Nusra that was called “moderate.” But when the scandal started leaking, that they are not moderate, they are Al Qaida that was supposed to be fought by the United States, they looked for another card. This card is the SDF now, because when as it seems, as you just mentioned, we are moving forward in the different areas to defeat the terrorists, the only problem left in Syria is the SDF. We’re going to deal with it by two options: the first one, we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them are Syrians, and supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners, that’s what we suppose, so we have the same basis. We all don’t trust the Americans for decades, not because of the war, because they always say a thing and do the opposite, they tell daily lies. So, we have one option is to live with each other as Syrians, like forever.

This is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to liberating by force, to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans. We don’t have any other option. So, this is our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it, and 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 the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore.

Question 7: But with regards to retaking territories, it seems inexplicably whenever you eliminate one threat, say, be in Ghouta, another threat seems to materialize, and this has happened repeatedly. Now, we have the Israeli energy minister who is threatening that his country could, quote, “liquidate you and your government.” Are you afraid, and how do you take that threat?

President Assad: Since we were born – I’m talking about my generation and most of the generations now in Syria – we lived under the threat of the Israeli aggression. This is something in our unconscious feeling, so to say that you’re afraid while living with the same threat for decades, this is nonsense. The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threat in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling, because they are losing the “dear ones,” the dear ones al-Nusra and ISIS, that’s why Israel is panicking recently, and we understand their feeling.

Question 8: Well, Israel is now seemingly striking across Syria, airstrikes, at will. They’re boasting publicly on camera again and again that your defenses, they’re powerless to stop them, that they can do in Syria whatever they want. Is that true, is there anything you can do to stop Israel carrying out its airstrikes in Syria?

President Assad: Actually, the first target of the mercenaries in Syria was the air defense, before attacking any other military base, it was the air defense, and you would be surprised at that time; why do they attack the air defense? The air defense will not deal with the “peaceful demonstrators” as they say or the “moderate forces,” and it cannot deal with extremists anyway. It’s another thing, it’s built to defend the country. This is the other proof that Israel was in direct link with those terrorists in Syria. So, they attacked those bases, and they destroyed a big part of our air defenses. Now, in spite of that, our position, let’s say, our air defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support, and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation.

Now, my answer to your question, the only option is to improve our air defense, this is the only thing we can do, and we are doing that.





Question 9: Israel says that its strikes are, so far, that they aren’t targeted against you, the President or the government, that they’re targeted at Iran, and they’re to keep Iran – which is your ally – weak in Syria. It’s strange, but Iran being here, they are your allies, it’s no secret, they have helped, but them being here now puts you at threat. Would you ever consider asking Iran to leave?

President Assad: The most important fact regarding this issue, is that we don’t have Iranian troops. We never had, and you cannot hide it, and we’re not ashamed to say that we have, like we invited the Russians, we could have invited the Iranians. We have Iranian officers who work with the Syrian Army as help, but they don’t have troops. And the starkest fact about their lies about this issue, the Iranian issue, that the recent attack a few weeks ago, they said that they attacked Iranian bases and camps, as they said, allegedly, and actually we had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers, not a single Iranian. So, how could they say that we have it? So, it’s a lie. We always say that we have Iranian officers, but they work with our army, we don’t have troops.

Question 10: Changing subject now, with regards to chemical attacks. There are now regular alleged chemical attacks happening in Syria. Your government and your allies have said that you had nothing to do with this. Your allies have backed your claims, denying any responsibility, saying they have no knowledge of you carrying out these attacks. The question is: in whose interest is it to gas opposition to you?

President Assad: That is the most part of the answer: in whose interest? That is the question. Is it in our interest? Why, and why no? Because the timing of this alleged strike was after the victory of the Syrian troops in Ghouta, let alone the fact that we don’t have chemical weapons anyway, and let the other fact is that we are not going to use it against our people, because the battle in Syria was about winning the hearts of the civilians, this is the main battle, and we won it. So, how can you use chemical weapons against civilians that you want them to be supportive to you?

This is first. Second, if you want to use it, let’s suppose that you have it and you want to use it, do you use it after you finished the battle, or before, or during? It’s not logical. Second, if you go to that area, it was a very cramped area by armies, by factions, and by civilians. Whenever you use such armaments or weapons in that area, you’re going to harm everyone, something that didn’t happen. And if you go to that area and you ask the civilians, there was no chemical attack by anyone. Even the Western journalists who went there after the Ghouta was liberated, they said “we asked the people and they said we didn’t see any chemical attack.” So, it was a narrative, it was just a pretext in order to attack Syria.

Question 11: Well, it may have been a pretext, but we don’t have proof that, you know, even we have rumors on Twitter, a few videos of… confusing videos showing allegedly the aftermath of an attack, is enough to justify for the United States, its allies, launching cruise missiles at Syria. What if, conveniently, there is another attack, alleged attack? Could there be a lot more missiles aimed at Syria?

President Assad: Of course, it could, because when the Unites States trampled over the international law, on daily basis sometimes in different areas for different reasons, any country in the world could have such an attack. What’s the legal base of this attack, what’s the legal base of their aircrafts, with their alliance, the so-called “anti-terrorist alliance” that supports the terrorists actually, what’s the legal base of that alliance? Nothing. What’s the legal base of the attack in Yemen, in Afghanistan, on the borders with Pakistan, etc.? There is no legal base. So, as long as you don’t have an international law that could be obeyed by the United States and its puppets in the West, there is no guarantee that it won’t happen. That happened a few weeks ago, and it happened last year, in April 2017, and that could happen anytime, exactly, I agree with you.

Question 12: But the response Trump promised was going to be extreme and severe, according to his words early on. The response that we saw, the strike that we saw after the latest alleged chemical attack was, it seems to be much more symbolic, much smaller in scope, and there was unexpectedly again a delay when Trump promised the attack and when it came. Why was there a delay? Did it have something perhaps to do with Russia?

President Assad: It has two aspects, as we saw it. The first one is they told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn’t buy their story, but they couldn’t withdraw. So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale. The second issue is related to the Russian position, that time, as you know, that the Russians announced publically that they are going to destroy the bases that are going to be used to launch missiles, and our information – we don’t have evidence, we only have information, and those information are credible information – that they were thinking about a comprehensive attack all over Syria, and that’s why the threat pushed the West to make it on a much smaller scale.

Question 13: Well, with regards to the United States’ relation towards you, President Trump has called you, quote, “Animal Assad.” Do you have a nickname for the US president?

President Assad: This is not my language, so, I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him, and I think there is a very known principle, that what you say is what you are. So, he wanted to represent what he is, and that’s normal. Anyway, it didn’t move anything, and this kind of language shouldn’t move anything for anyone. The only thing that moves you is what people that you trust, people who are level-headed, people who are thoughtful, people who are moral, ethical, that’s what should move anything inside you, whether positive or negative. Somebody like Trump will move nothing for me.




Question 14: With regards to the United States’ presidency, there is an interesting thing, you know, I came up with, thought up of a while ago; there are now in Syria forces from five nuclear powers, five nuclear powers directly engaged in military operations in Syria, be it boots on the grounds or airstrikes. Some of those countries are on different sides. How Syrian is this civil war still?

President Assad: The word “civil war” has been used widely since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, even by our friends, and by our allies by mistake, without understanding the content of this meaning. Syrian “civil war” means there are sectarian lines based on either ethnicities or sects or religions or maybe political opinion or political currents, let’s say, something we don’t have in Syria. In reality, in the area controlled by the government, which is now the majority of Syria, you have all these diversities. So, the word “civil war” is not correct. What we have actually from the very beginning are mercenaries, Syrians, and foreigners being paid by the West in order to topple the government. This is the reality, the mere reality, the very stark reality. Everything else is just masks to cover the real intentions. Talking about political differences, moderates, peaceful demonstration; we don’t have civil war in Syria. If we had civil war for seven years, we should have been divided by now. You cannot have one country, united country, united society, it’s not geographically because now of the Unites States’ puppets and the Turkish puppets. If there were a civil war, then you should have a divided society. Go by yourself, deal with different spectrums of the Syrian society, and you can answer that question in the same way I’m answering it.

Question 15: But with regards to potential escalation. Okay, there are proxy forces from all these five nuclear powers, as well as the other forces engaged in Syria, but you, as the President, again, you must have information. How close have we come during this civil war… during this war to an escalation between these nuclear powers?

President Assad: In reality, we were close to have direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces, and fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership, because it is not in the interest of anyone, anyone in this world, and first of all the Syrians, to have this conflict. We need the Russian support, but we need at the same time to avoid the American foolishness in order to be able to stabilize our country.

Question 16: And just briefly, one last question. The closer we get to the end, is the danger of an escalation, in your estimation, is it decreasing or is it, on the other hand, increasing?

President Assad: As I said at the very beginning, the more we get closer to the end, the more they want to make it farther. What does it mean? The more stability you have, the more escalation we will have. The more reconciliation you have in one area, the more killing and destruction and trying to capture more areas by the terrorists we’ll have. That’s why within the reconciliation, when we started reconciliations in many areas, the other factions in the same area tried to destroy it, because they have the orders from the outside not to go toward any reconciliation, of course, you have the orders with the pocket of money. So, what you say is correct, but the more escalation we have, the more determined we’ll be to solve the problem, because you don’t have any other choice; either you have a country or you don’t have a country.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for your insights, and thank you very much for welcoming us here and giving us so much of your time. We wish you all the best, the Syrian people all the best, and a swift conclusion to this awful conflict. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you, thank you for coming to Syria again.


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SOURCE | https://sana.sy/en/?p=139186


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