No Russia-Israel coordination on Syria strikes: Assad believes
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has rejected reports that Russia had coordinated or even known in advance about the recent Israeli strikes on the Arab country.
“Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that’s contradiction” Assad said during an interview with the British Daily Mail newspaper released on Sunday.
“How could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?” he added, rejecting the allegations mostly made in the Israeli media.
Assad further stressed that Russia’s policy towards Syria is based on non-interference in the Arab country’s internal affairs.
“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,” he said.
The president described the Syrian army as “the main party” that has been fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group with the help of the Russians and Iranians over the past years.
However, he said, the Western military alliance led by the Americans has actually been supporting Daesh by attacking the Syrian military.
Assad said there is a “big difference” between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s handling of the issues in the Middle East and those of US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“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,” he said.
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded the withdrawal of “all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.”
In response, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the issue was not up for discussion.
Iran offers Syria advisory military support in its fight against terrorism.
Russia has military advisers in Syria and runs a number of military bases, from which it has been carrying out an aerial bombardment campaign on behalf of the Syrian government.
On the contrary, the US has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
In his interview, Assad emphasized that only Syria can make decision about the country, saying,” No one should have any doubt about this.”
He also vowed to “liberate every inch of Syria” and stressed that the conflict in the country could be resolved “in less than a year.”
The crisis “is not very complicated. What has made it complicated is the external interference,” he said.
“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,” he pointed out.
Asked about a suspected gas attack in the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region on April 7, Assad said the incident “was staged” by the US, the UK and France “together.”
“The UK publicly supported the White Helmets that are a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra in different areas of Syria. They (the British) spent a lot of money, and we consider the White Helmets to be a PR stunt by the UK,” he added.
Assad said the Douma chemical attack was “a lie.”
“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.”
One week after the Douma incident, Washington, London and Paris launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.
They carried out the attack on the basis of an allegation without any proof even, ignoring pleas by Syria and Russia to send independent investigators to the alleged site of the attack.