Syria’s Assad in interview claims secret coordination with U.S., hits ‘double standard’

by WorldTribune Staff, July 1, 2016

Syrian President Bashar Assad accused the United States and other Western nations of a “double standard” for secretly dealing with him while publicly criticizing him and calling for him to step down.

“This is the double standard of the West in general: They attack us politically and they send us their officials to deal with us under the table, especially the security, including your government,” Assad said in an interview with Australian broadcaster SBS.

Syrian President Bashar Assad. /Reuters/SANA
Syrian President Bashar Assad. /Reuters/SANA

“They don’t want to upset the United States. Actually most of the Western officials they only repeat what the United States want them to say. This is the reality,” added Assad.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has in the past called Assad a murderous tyrant, and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has described him as a butcher.

Assad responded to those condemnations by saying, “these statements, I just can say they are disconnected from our reality, because I’m fighting terrorists. Our army is fighting terrorists, our government is against terrorists, the whole institutions are against terrorists. If you call fighting terrorism butchery, that’s another issue.”

Along with Al Qaida and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Assad’s government refers to all rebels fighting to oust him, including those backed by the West, as “terrorists”.

Assad also had a message for Australians thinking about traveling to Syria to fight.

“If there are foreigners coming without the permission of the government they are illegal, whether they want to fight terrorists or want to fight any other one,” Assad told SBS.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration on June 30 said it may agree to coordinate with Russia on strikes against terrorist groups in Syria if Moscow agrees to use its leverage with Assad to stop bombing U.S.-backed rebels.

The proposal would see U.S. military and Russian Air Force launch joint airstrikes against the Al Qaida’s Syria affiliate Nusra Front.

Some U.S. officials were highly skeptical Moscow would accept such a deal.

“If the Russians would do the right thing in Syria – and that’s an important condition – as in all cases with Russia, we’re willing to work with them,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.