President Bashar al-Assad has given an interview to a Syrian TV station defending the actions of his government and armed forces. Assad talked extensively about neighbouring Turkey which is bearing the brunt of the refugee exodus from Syria.
“Turkey’s position is known”, he said. “The Turkish state bears direct responsibility concerning Syria and also bears responsibility for the bloodshed in Syria, but when we started developing our relationship with Turkey one doesn’t look at it in terms of relations between our peoples or between our governments but more in terms of the story of two nations who’ve had a troubled relationship for around nine decades.”
Bashar al-Assad also claimed he had not been taken by surprise by any of the high profile defections that have taken place:
“Sometimes we had information concerning defections and we would discuss it. Some would suggest we stop them. But we said no, stopping them isn’t the right thing to do, letting them leave is the right thing to do … let’s facilitate their exit. Any Syrian who leaves is no longer welcome.”
Elsewhere the fighting continued on Wednesday.
Video uploaded to the web purportedly showed government shelling and gun battles going on across the country. While amateur footage can rarely be verified it seems certain that the violence is continuing and people are still dying.