Russian English-language channel RT has scored an exclusive interview with President Bashar al-Assad (see full video below).
Speaking with journalist Murad Gazdiev, the Syrian leader addressed a number of topics ranging from the progress of the war, foreign meddling in Syria, the role of Israel, chemical weapons use, and the attitude of US President Donald Trump.
Assad pointedly accused Israel of being one of the primary sponsors of the conflict in his country, saying:
The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threaten in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling because they are losing the ‘dear ones,’ the dear ones Al-Nusra and ISIS, that’s why Israel is panicking recently, and we understand their feeling.
He also mentioned that Syria was upgrading its air defenses, and that strikes by Israel, the US and western powers had been much less successful than claimed.
The president also responded to a nickname given him by Donald Trump – “animal Assad” – saying the US leader does not intimidate him:
This is not my language, so, I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him. I think there is a very well known principle, that what you say is what you are. So, he wanted to represent what he is, and that’s normal…
The only thing that moves you is what people that you trust, people who are level-headed, people who are thoughtful, people who are moral, ethical, that’s what should move anything inside you, whether positive or negative. Somebody like Trump will move nothing for me.
On the subject of chemical weapons, he, as in previous interviews, emphasized the illogic of the accusations made by the West:
The timing of this alleged strike was after the victory of the Syrian troops in Ghouta. Let alone the fact that we don’t have chemical weapons anyway…they told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn’t buy their story, but they couldn’t withdraw. So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale.
Finally, Assad stressed that Washington’s plans for Syria have totally failed, and the US was fast running out of options to implement regime change:
The United States is losing its cards. The main card was Al-Nusra, that was called ‘moderate,’ but when scandals started leaking that they’re not moderate, that they’re Al-Qaeda, which is supposed to be fought by the United States, they started looking for another card. This card is the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] now…
We’re going to use two methods to deal with the SDF: The first one, we started opening doors for negotiations – because the majority of them are Syrians. And supposedly they like their country, they don’t like being puppets to any foreigners – that’s what we suppose…however, if negotiations fail, the Syrian army will be forced to liberate areas occupied by the SDF, with the Americans, or without the Americans.