Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he believes beyond any doubt that “terrorists” have “definitely” masked themselves as refugees and have sought new homes in Europe and possibly other Western countries.
In an interview with Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff in Damascus, the President said there is photographic evidence available online showing some of the nearly 4.8 million displaced Syrians living in Europe as refugees as previous fighters in Syria’s six-year civil war.
Syrian president saying Terrorist are definitely in refugee populations in Europe &the west(that's us folks).Rt. https://t.co/zmp4ePeJjq— Donna Hallabuk (@gracy69epixnet) February 10, 2017
“The same picture that you saw them, in some cases of course, those terrorists in Syria, holding the machine gun or killing people, they are peaceful refugees in Europe or the West, yeah that is true,” al-Assad said.
FROM TERRORIST TO REFUGEE
It's as simple as a wardrobe change#WednesdayWisdompic.twitter.com/mW1dZ5KZFF
realDonaldTrump</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TrumpTrain?src=hash">#TrumpTrain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAGA?src=hash">#MAGA</a></p>— Boca Vista (bocavista2016) February 1, 2017
Al-Assad’s comment, who added that US ground troops would be “welcome” in Syria to help combat ISIL militants in the country, comes as a federal appeals court in the United States upheld the suspension of US President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries to the United States.
Key among the nations mentioned in the White House order was Syria, which the Trump administration said accepting Syrian refugees would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.
Trump’s order sparked world-wide condemnation, prompting protests at US airports and threatens to embroil the nascent presidency in a constitutional crisis as Trump vows to challenge the appellate court’s decision.
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
But al-Assad’s comments could also add credence to Western fears ISIL is, and has, managed to infiltrate refugee flows from conflict zones into Europe.
Two of the ISIL Paris terror attack militants, Ahmad al-Mohammad, a Syrian national from Idlib, Syria, and M al-Mahmod, arrived in Europe via refugee flows it was revealed after the 2015 attack.
Anis Amri, the suspect who in December drove a lorry into a Berlin Christmas market was an asylum seeker from Tunisia.
When asked by Yahoo’s Isikoff what percentage of Syrian refugees al-Assad thinks are terrorists, if he thought there were a “significant” number, the President said didn’t know and dismissed the question.
“It’s not about significance because you don’t need to have a significant number to commit atrocities,” al-Assad said. “The [September 2001 attacks in New York City] happened by only 15 terrorists out of maybe millions of immigrants in the United States. So it’s not about the number it’s about the quality, it’s about the intensions.”
Get a different perspective
Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.