Assad: Syria informed
on coalition strikes

Bashar al-Assad speaks with the BBC. (BBC)

BEIRUT – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that his country has been relayed information on the coalition’s airstrikes targeting the Islamic State (ISIS) group.


“A third party, more than one party, Iraq and other countries [are talking to Syria],” he said in an interview with BBC broadcast Tuesday.


“Sometimes they convey a message, a general message, but there’s nothing tactical.”


However, the Syrian president added that “there’s no direct cooperation” and stressed that his country does not maintain any contact with Washington.


When the US expanded its anti-ISIS campaign in late September, Damascus claimed that its foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, received a letter via the Iraqi government from US Secretary of State of State John Kerry informing of the impending strikes.


However, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki denied that Kerry sent the letter, and said that Washington did “not request the regime's permission” for air strikes.


Assad also slammed the coalition against ISIS during the BBC interview, saying it was not a true fighting force against terrorism.


“We cannot be [in] alliance with the [countries that] support terrorism... because we are fighting terrorism,” he said in response to a question on whether Syria would join the coalition.


“We will work for the common interests of others, but we will never be puppets working for their interests against ours.”


Assad’s comments come a day after Damascus sent a warning to Jordan against intervening military in Syria.


“We will not allow anyone to violate our national sovereignty and we do not need any ground troops to fight ISIS,” Syria’s foreign minister said amid Jordan’s escalation of its military role in the anti-ISIS coalition.


“The Syrian Arab government is fully capable of fighting [ISIS],” Muallem told reporters.


Assad denies barrel bombs, chlorine gas


The Syrian president flatly denied that his military forces were using barrel bombs and chlorine gas, despite reports regime forces have targeted civilians with both.


“This is a childish story repeated in the West,” Assad said when asked whether his troops were dropping barrel bombs on civilian areas.


“There are no indiscriminate weapons, when you shoot you aim, and when you aim, you aim at terrorists.”


Human rights groups and UN officials have both accused the Syrian regime of using barrel bombs in an indiscriminate manner that has targeted civilians.


Two weeks ago, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang told the UN Security Council in a briefing that the regime was “using explosive barrel bombings against civilians.”


UN Security Council Resolution 2139, passed in February 2014, orders all parties in Syria to discontinue the use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons in civilian-populated areas.


A July 2014 Human Rights Watch report on barrel bombings in Aleppo concludes that “ government forces have maintained and even increased their bombardment rate of Aleppo” since the passage of Resolution 2139.


Assad also denied that his forces were responsible for chlorine gas attacks in Syria, after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a January report confirmed chemical the use of the compound against rebel-controlled villages.


“We are definitely” not using chlorine gas, the Syrian president said, adding that “chlorine gas exists in any house, in any factory.”

Bashar al-Assad speaks with the BBC. (BBC)

This is a childish story repeated in the West.