Bashar al-Assad claims the bombing campaign against Islamic State in Syria has helped the terror group expand.
While Britain’s parliament prepares to debate and then vote on whether to launch air strikes against the jihadists in Syria, Assad has described the US-led coalition leading the bombing as “supporting terrorists.”
Syria’s president also praised Russia and Vladimir Putin, despite accusations that Russian forces have targeted moderate rebels as well as extremists like ISIS.
Speaking to Czech TV, Assad said:
Since the beginning of that (US-led) coalition, if you want to talk about facts, not opinion, since the beginning of that coalition, ISIS has expanded and the recruiting from around the world has increased.
While since the participation of Russia in the same fight, so-called against terrorism, ISIS has been shrinking. And al-Nusra of course and the other terrorist groups.
So this is reality. The facts are telling. When those countries that I mentioned — France, UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some other — stop supporting those terrorists the next day the situation will be better and in a few months we will have full peace in Syria, definitely. If they stop.
The US-led coalition of 65 countries fighting ISIS has carried out 8,289 airstrikes total as of November 19. Of those strikes, the US was responsible 6,471, The New York Times reports.
Western leaders have frequently said that Assad must leave power if there is to be lasting peace in Syria but the 50-year-old has once again refused to quit.
“Now in the middle of the war, I’m not going to say I’m leaving for any reason,” he said. “When there’s election, the Syrian people will decide if they want me, I’ll be happy to be president. If they don’t want me, I’ll be happy to leave it. I don’t have any problem.”
Meanwhile in Britain, deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to apologise after he told Conservative MPs not to side with “terrorist sympathisers” who oppose air strikes.
Watson said: “The Prime Minister should retract and apologise for these remarks which are disrespectful to those MPs who have a different view to him.”
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