Syria Daily: Assad Welcomes US-Russia Support, Denies Human Rights Violations

February 11 – 2017 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Syria’s President Assad has encouraged the US to join Russia in support for his regime, as he continues to reject any change in his position or responsibility for deaths and abuses in the six-year conflict.Assad told Michael Isikoff of Yahoo!, in an interview published Friday, that the cooperation with the Trump Administration and including Russia and Iran would be “against terrorists, and against terrorism. That’s self-evident for us.”

The President has always labelled the main opposition and rebel factions as “terrorists” supported by outside powers.

Assad said he would accept US troops in a joint fight: “If the Americans are genuine, of course they are welcome, like any other country that wants to defeat and to fight with the terrorists. Of course, with no hesitation we can say that.”

Meanwhile, Assad rejected any creation of safe zones for civilians, despite the displacement of more than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million inside and outside the country:

Safe zones for the Syrians could only happen when you have stability and security, where you don’t have terrorists, where you don’t have flow and support of those terrorists by the neighboring countries or by Western countries. This is where you can have a natural safe zone, which is our country. They don’t need safe zones at all.

Assad insisted that the displaced had not been because of years of bombing and shelling by his forces and Russian and Iranian allies, but by the “terrorist acts and the support from the outside” and by sanctions on Syria. He rejected any personal responsibility for the deaths and destruction in the conflict:

Regarding the policies that I undertake since the beginning of the crisis, they were supporting the dialogue between the Syrians, fighting terrorists, and supporting reconciliation, and they succeeded. So, no, regarding these policies, I think we were correct, and we are continuing on these pillars for the future of Syria regarding this crisis.

Denying Human Right Violations

Asked about human rights violations, including the killing of thousands of detainees in regime prisons, Assad first tried to deflect the question to Saudi Arabia. Pressed by Isikoff, “I’m not interviewing the King of Saudi Arabia right, I’m interviewing you”, the President again tried to shift attention — to the US — and then finally tried to dismissed the latest report of the detainees’ deaths, by Amnesty International, as interviews which “mean nothing” because Amnesty “paid money” to the witnesses. He then struggled as Isikoff persisted with questions about executions carried out after 1- to 2-minute secret trials without legal representation for the condemned:

  1. Mass hangings.

Assad: First of all, execution is part of the Syrian law. If the Syrian government or institution wants to do it, they can make it legally, because it’s been there for decades.

  1. Secret trials, no lawyers?

Assad: Why do they need it, if they can make it legally? They don’t need anything secret.

Q: Is that legal, in your country?

Assad: Yeah, yeah, of course, it’s legal, for decades, since the independence. The execution, according to the law, after trial, is a legal action, like any other court in many countries in this region.

  1. Will you allow international monitors to visit that prison and inspect and investigate these reports?

Assad: It depends on the credibility of that organization, not anyone, because they’re going to use this visit just to demonize the Syrian government more and more and more, like what’s happening.