Amid new international efforts to try to halt fighting in Syria, the country’s president has hit out at foreign nations hostile to his regime.
Bashar al-Assad has singled out Turkey, accusing it of supporting insurgents who have recently made further gains in a civil war now into its fourth year.
The Syrian President admitted to the Swedish newspaper Expressen that “war weakens any army, no matter how strong, no matter how modern”.
Ankara denies the claims made by Assad.
Next month the UN envoy for Syria will start consultations with representatives from Syria and other interested states on possible peace talks.
But Assad has a grim message for Steffan de Mastura, insisting that the conflict is complicated by what he calls “external intervention”.
He said that Mastura was aware that if he couldn’t “convince those countries to stop supporting the terrorists and let the Syrians solve the problem, he will not succeed”.
Assad also described Syria as a fault line, saying that if you mess with it the repercussions will be felt in other areas, including Europe.
“As long as the backyard of Europe, especially the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, is in chaos and full of terrorists, Europe cannot be safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Syria denies it is responsible for recent suspected chlorine gas attacks.
UN Security Council members were reportedly moved to tears when shown a video of doctors trying to revive victims, including children.
At least 220,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, with Assad losing control of large parts of the country’s north and east.