Assad defends Trump's 'Muslim ban': 'It's not against the Syrian people'
Feb 17 2017
On Wednesday, Salim al-Muslit, the spokesman of the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that includes militant groups and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said he supported direct talks between the HNC and the Syrian government.
During the interview, Assad vowed to retake "every inch" of Syrian territory from rebel groups but indicated that the Islamic State stronghold of Raqa is not a priority target for his forces. "You have ISIL close to Damascus, you have them everywhere", he said.
Mr Assad denied that his government uses torture and repeated his rejection of allegations by Amnesty International of killings and violence perpetrated on prisoners at a complex near Damascus. "So it's biased", he said.
Answering the question how Syrians could express their support or, on the contrary, disagreement with the president's policies, Assad said that there were two ways - "the one that we have now, and the one that will be there in the future, at the end of the war".
Assad praised Turkey, Russia and Iran for leading the Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and denounced the West for supporting "those groups that represented the terrorists against the government". To get information? We have all the information.
In his interview, Assad criticized the West for its "passive" role in helping resolve the Syria crisis and said Western countries had "lost their chance of achieving anything in Geneva twice".
"If we commit such atrocities it's going to play into the hands of the terrorists, they're going to win".
"It's also urgent that we see where Turkey stands in light of the newfound proximity with Russian Federation and Iran", the source said, adding that it would be vital to assess how Gulf Arab Sunni states Saudi Arabia and Qatar - opposed to Assad - saw the conflict after "pulling back a little".
Disputes over the agenda have helped to torpedo previous rounds of Syria peace talks.
Pointing to the challenge facing the United Nations -led talks, separate Syria talks that had been due to take place in Kazakhstan were postponed on Wednesday for one day.