Assad rules out cooperation with US-led campaign against ISIL

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) giving an interview to the BBC in the capital Damascus on February 8, 2015 which was released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on February 10, 2015.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ruled out Syria’s joining the US-led coalition carrying airstrikes against what are said to be ISIL positions in Iraq and Syria, since members of the coalition are themselves sponsors of terrorism.

Responding to a question in a Sunday interview with the state-funded BBC, which was released by the official Syrian news agency SANA on Tuesday, on whether Syria would participate in the US-led campaign, Assad said, “No, definitely we cannot and we don’t have the will and we don’t want, for one simple reason – because we cannot be in an alliance with countries which support terrorism.”

Assad said that he was not against cooperating with other countries in their battle against the Takfiri ISIL terrorists, but would refuse to talk with American officials “because they don’t talk to anyone unless he’s a puppet.”

“We’re prepared to work on our common interests with others, but not to be puppets,” said Assad.

Assad also slammed the US officials for “easily trampling” on international law and violating Syria’s sovereignty, in reference to the airstrikes that are being carried out by the US-led coalition inside Syria without authorization from Damascus.

“And they easily trample over international law, which is about our sovereignty now, so they don’t talk to us, we don’t talk to them,” he said.

The Syrian president also said that his government is receiving messages from the US-led coalition battling the ISIL.

There had been no direct cooperation since airstrikes began in Syria in September, but third parties – among them Iraq – were conveying “information,” he said.

“Sometimes, they convey a message, a general message, but there’s nothing tactical,” he said, adding, “There is no dialogue. There’s, let’s say, information, but not dialogue.”

The Syrian president further dismissed as “childish story” allegations that forces had been using barrel bombs in the conflict.

“We have bombs, missiles and bullets… There is [are] no barrel bombs, we don’t have barrel [bombs].”

The ISIL terrorists control some parts of Iraq and Syria. They are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control. They have terrorized and killed people of all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.

Since August, the US and some of its allies have been conducting airstrikes against alleged ISIL positions in Iraq. Some members of the US-led coalition also started bombarding ‘ISIL targets’ inside Syria in September.

However, the raids have so far failed to dislodge the Takfiri group.

Illusions over ‘moderate’ opposition

According to the Syrian president, the ongoing crisis in Syria was not initiated to remove him from power, but was instigated due to the country’s anti-West policies.

“The war in Syria is not about me; it’s about a state whose policies the West doesn’t like,” he said.

Assad further said that in most troubled areas, Syrian citizens flee militants and “come to the government’s side.”

The Syrian president further dismissed as “pipe dream” efforts by the US to train and equip so-called moderate opposition forces to fight the ISIL on the ground in Syria, arguing that there were no moderates, only militants from ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Earlier on January 16, the Pentagon announced it is deploying about 1,000 troops to train the militants in Syria to fight against the ISIL terrorist group.

The training program, which is expected to begin in early spring, will also include hundreds of US support personnel, who will be operating at sites in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to the Pentagon.