The Syrian President has blamed foreign intervention for prolonging the conflict in his country, saying without their interference it would take “less than a year” to restore peace in Syria.
In an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, Assad said : “I have always said, without any interference, it will take less than a year to regain stability in Syria; I don’t have any doubt about this”
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Press TV reports: Assad referred to foreign support for extremist groups operating in the war-torn country as another factor for the persistence of the crisis, however, expressing hope that “we’re going to end this conflict and we’re going to re-unify Syria under the control of the government. When? I cannot answer. I hope it’s going to be soon.”
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He lashed out at Western countries, including France, Britain and the US along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey for supporting various terrorist groups, saying they “should be held accountable” for the bloodshed in Syria.
Assad said Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the “army” of the US, Turkey and the Saudi regime, stressing that “any aggressor” and “any army … are all enemies as long as they came to Syria illegally.”
The Syrian president further denounced as “aggression” the ongoing Turkish operation in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled region. “This is an occupation. Any single Turkish soldier on Syrian soil represents occupation,” he said.
He said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “was assigned by the West, mainly the United States, to interfere, to make the situation complicated, again because without this interference, the situation would have been resolved much faster.”
Turkey began the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on January 20 to clear the northern Syrian border of the US-backed Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom it associates with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting for autonomy on Turkish soil.
The Turkish military says it has exercised “utmost care” not to harm civilians. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitor, however, said last week that more than 280 civilians had been killed since the onset of the operation.
The Turkish operation has been launched without permission from the Syrian government. It has also pitted Ankara against Washington, which has armed and supports the Kurdish militants.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad rejected the Western allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government near the capital of Damascus as a “farce and a very primitive play” whose only goal is to “attack the Syrian army” after the defeat of terrorists.