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Assad blasts France for supporting 'terrorists'

The Local/AFP · 21 Apr 2015, 08:14

Published: 21 Apr 2015 08:14 GMT+02:00

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Assad, told France 2 TV channel that Paris was supporting "terrorists"  in his country and scolded President François Hollande for his policy towards the crisis in Syria.

In August last year Hollande admitted that France had been supplying weapons to Syrian rebel groups "for months".

"We cannot leave the only Syrians who are preparing a democracy ... without weapons," Hollande said at the time.

But Assad said France had become "a kind of satellite for American foreign policy in the region. [France] is not independent, it has no weight and no credibility," he said.

Assad criticized the west aiding the rebels claimed it has resulted in "terrorists infiltrating the country".

"They have begun to attack civilians and destroy properties. Our role is to defend our society," he said.

In the wide-ranging interview the Syrian leader also denied being behind alleged chemical attacks in northwestern Idlib province last month, and accused the United States of overseeing the creation of the Islamic State group.

"The IS was created in Iraq in 2006 under the supervision of the Americans. The IS came from Iraq to Syria because chaos is contagious," he said, slamming France and other western nations for supporting the jihadists by considering them as the moderate opposition.

"Is it democratic to send weapons to terrorists and to support them? So I have the right to support the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo for example?"

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper last week, Assad had warned that the terrorist attacks in Paris are just "the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to terrorism in Europe.

"As long as the backyard of Europe, especially the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, is in chaos and full of terrorists, Europe cannot be safe," Assad told Swedish newspaper Expressen.

Story continues below…

"Everything that happened in Europe, and I mean terrorist attacks, we warned from the very beginning of the crisis," he said.

"We’ve had experience with those kind of terrorists for 50 years now. They don’t listen, so what happened was warned of before, and what we saw in France, in Charlie Hebdo, the suicide attempts in Copenhagen, in London, in Spain ten years ago, this is only the tip of the iceberg; terrorism is a huge mountain," he added.

The French government has strictly ruled out any talks with Assad and earlier this year Hollande accused a group of French MPs of a "moral failing" after they travelled to Syria to meet the President Bashar al-Assad, whom PM Manuel Valls described as a "butcher"

A cross-party group of four French lawmakers made an unofficial trip to the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday and held talks with senior ministers.
Three of the MPs -- not including one from the ruling Socialist party -- then met with the Syrian leader.
Hollande condemned the talks, saying France cannot have a dialogue with a "dictator who has bombed his own people and who has used chemical weapons to destroy human lives, Syrian lives -- the lives of children, women".


The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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