Assad: Syria sympathizes with Paris attack victims

AP News
Posted: Jan 14, 2015 8:46 AM
Assad: Syria sympathizes with Paris attack victims

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad said in comments published Wednesday that his country is against the killing of civilians anywhere in the world, and that last week's Paris attacks were a result of Western support for "terrorism."

More than 200,000 people have been killed since an uprising against the Assad family's four-decade rule began in March 2011, triggering a brutal crackdown that escalated into a devastating civil war.

In an interview with Czech publication Literarni Noviny, Assad called on Western leaders to reconsider their backing of Syrian rebels and opposition. He added that countries concerned about fighting terrorism "should share information."

Late last year, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem called for coordination with Western countries in the fight against the Islamic State group. The U.S. has ruled out any joint effort with Assad's government.

"We are against the killing of innocent people anywhere in the world," Assad said. "At the same time, we want to remind people in the West that we have been talking about such consequences since the beginning of the Syrian crisis."

"We told the West that it should not support terrorism and give it political cover because it would all affect your countries and your people. They didn't listen to us," he said.

Assad's government has cast the uprising as a foreign plot furthered by Islamic extremists, and refers to all rebels as "terrorists."

In the interview, Assad accused Western leaders of being "short-sighted" and said that the attacks in France proved that "what we said was true."

He added that Syria has suffered from "this kind of terrorism" for the past four years and lost thousands of people, and therefore sympathizes with the families of victims in France.

Excerpts of the interview with the Czech paper were also published in Syria's state media Wednesday.