Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said during a recent interview over the week-end that he is eager to achieve a solution to end the conflict and war in Syria that has dragged on since 2011, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and the displacement of millions more outside of Syria’s borders.
Assad was interviewed on Saturday by Chinese media through Chinese Phoenix Television that was aired by Syrian SANA media agency.
Assad admitted during the interview that the more delay you have in Syria, the more harm, destruction, and killing you’ll have within Syria.
Assad spoke about the need for a viable solution to the war in Syria that includes two parallels consisting of 1) fighting the terrorists and 2) dialogue with a political option such as a possible referendum that also brings the disparate terrorist groups operating in Syria to lay down their arms and to return to a more normal life in exchange for amnesty.
U.S. President Trump has pledged to defeat ISIS and recently authorized hundreds of U.S. army ranger troops and a Marine artillery unit to be sent to Manbij in Northern Syria, 30 kilometers west of the Euphrates, where Turkish troops are waged in a power struggle against U.S. backed Kurdish troops.
Last year, Kurdish troops and Arab Syrians wrested control of Manbij from ISIS through the support of a U.S. led coalition.
Turkey remains deeply suspicious of the Kurdish YPG troops and associates them with PKK, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which they perceive as a separatist threat for Turkey.
The U.S. ultimately aims to battle ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, an ISIS stronghold, where the Syrian government is also planning to send troops.
Syrian President Assad said that Syrian government troops are closing in on Raqqa.
“We are very close to Raqqa now. Yesterday, our troops reached the Euphrates River which is very close to Raqqa city, and Raqqa is the stronghold of ISIS today, so it’s going to be a priority for us, but that doesn’t mean the other cities are not priority, in time that could be in parallel, because Palmyra is on the way to Dier Ezzor city in the eastern part of Syria which is close to the Iraqi borders, and those areas that have been used by ISIS as route for logistic support between ISIS in Iraq and ISIS in Syria” Assad said.
“So, whether you attack the stronghold or you attack the route that ISIS uses, it has the same result” Assad said.
Assad admitted, “the complexity of this war is the foreign intervention.”
The 6 year bloody war in Syria is considered a proxy war with a variety of competing outside interests vying for control.
The Assad government in Damascus is supported by Moscow and Tehran while the U.S. coalition has supported Kurdish and moderate Arab ground troops that have targeted ISIS.
Assad accused Erdogan’s government in Turkey of supporting ISIS and claimed they are still active in Syria because of Turkish support.
“Turkey, has been supporting ISIS till this moment, because Erdogan, the Turkish President, is Muslim Brotherhood. He’s ideologically linked and sympathetic with ISIS and with al-Nusra, and everybody knows about this in our region, and he helped them either through armaments, logistically, through exporting oil” Assad said.
Assad pointed out that ISIS in the north only have one route of supply and it runs through Turkey. Assad explained that ISIS is still alive, active, and resisting all kinds of waves of attacks, because of Turkish support.
Assad claimed that the U.S. under the Obama administration overlooked ISIS smuggling oil through Turkey that permitted them to get money for recruiting terrorists.
Assad said he has more hopes about the new Trump administration, although he described any foreign troops without consultation from Damascus as “invaders.”
Asked if there’s room for cooperation with the U.S., Syrian President Assad said “yes” in theory but not yet on the practical level.
“Yeah, in theory, yes, but practically, not yet, because there’s no link between Syria and the United States on the formal level” Assad said.
Assad denied having any direct contact with the Trump administration but admitted there’s been some indirect communication though private channels and acknowledged, “you cannot bet on private channels.”
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