Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he is open to the idea of an alliance against Islamist extremists ISIL..
His comments came in an interview with a Lebanese TV station. But later he qualified his remarks saying it was unlikely to happen. He said it would mean his government having to join states that have so far backed Syrian rebels.
“The important thing is to be able to form an alliance to fight terrorism,” he said. “Any alliance, work, procedure, or dialogue that leads to stopping the Syrian bloodshed must be a priority for us, and we must work towards it with no hesitation. What concerns us is the result on the ground, logically it is not possible that states which stand with terrorism will be the states that fight terrorism.”
Assad used the term ‘terrorism’ for both ISIL and opposition activists – something which the West takes Issue with. On Tuesday French President Francois Hollande accused Assad of continuing to massacre his own people.
“We must reduce the terrorist threat without maintaining Assad because the two are bound together. At the same time we have to look for a political transition without the Syrian leader,” said the French president.
Russia is spearheading renewed diplomatic activity on Syria but analysts view Assad’s latest interview as changing nothing. Since 2011 more than 250,000 people have died in the conflict with a quarter of a million having been forced to flee their country.