19, 2017 "Information
Bashar al-Assad affirmed that victory in Aleppo
is an important step in the way to defeat and to
eliminate the terrorism from our country, adding
ďwe donít think that we can talk about winning
the war unless we defeat the terrorists
everywhere in Syria.Ē
president added in an interview given to French
TF1 TV and EUROPE 1 Radio that the west
supported terrorists in Syria under the name of
ďmoderate,Ē but it was supporting the same basis
of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Join with over 100,000 people in more than 200
countries, who place people before profit
President Bashar al-Assad, thank for accepting
this encounter with TF1 and with Europe 1 here
in Damascus. Weíre going to speak about the
future of Syria, about the war on terror, about
the recent gains and support that you can count
on, as well as the heavy accusations youíre
Good morning, Mr. President, bonjour monsieur le
A simple question to start with: after the fall
of Aleppo two months ago, can one say that you
have won the war?
No, we donít think that we can talk about
winning the war unless we defeat the terrorists
everywhere in Syria. Itís just an important step
in the way to defeat and to eliminate the
terrorism from our country, but I think itís
going to be a long way for one reason, a simple
reason; because they still have the support of
many Western countries including France,
including UK, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia
and Qatar in our region.
You talk about a long way; can you summarize
from a military point of view the objectives
that you have still to reach?
Definitely, when I talk about eliminating the
terrorists from our country, it means to take
over every inch of our country, to bring it back
under the control of the government, and thatís
the duty of any government; is to take control
of every place.
In which part of Syria particularly, which town?
You mean next after Aleppo?
Of course, now you have to, and we are, we
continue our campaign in the area surrounding
Aleppo, just to make Aleppo more immune against
any other terrorist attacks from the western and
northern part thatís been supported by Turkey
directly, by the Turkish army.
But the next step is Idleb? This is what people
say; next big battle will be Idleb.
Could be Idleb, could be Raqqa, could be
anywhere. Now, it depends on the situation on
daily basis, because you change your plans. So,
we didnít put that plan before finishing Aleppo
as city and rural area. So, itís still early to
talk about which is next. That depends on the
development of the battles in the different
But the situation is far better off now for you
as it used to be, militarily speaking.
Of course, every place you can liberate from the
terrorists means the situation is better, but
itís not enough for us.
Sir, for France, the main terrorist threat is
Daesh, thereís no question about this. For you,
all armed groups, or most of them, are
terrorists. Why is Daesh not a specific threat
Let me answer you about two points: the first
one, itís not for us, when we say they are
terrorists, not for us as government; itís for
the law, and for the international law. Whoever
carries a machinegun in my country or in your
country and starts killing people and destroying
properties is a terrorist. This is an
international concept, so itís not for us. For
us, whoever wants to give up his armament is not
a terrorist anymore, according to the law. But
if you talk about Daesh, I think when you say
that the French people or the Europeans worry
about Daesh, I think this is misunderstanding of
the situation; Daesh is a product, itís not the
problem. The problem is the ideology of Daesh,
which is the same for al-Nusra, the same for
many other organizations, like-minded
organizations in Syria, and maybe in Libya or
any other country. So, you should be worried
about those terrorists; they donít care about
being ISIS or al-Nusra, they implement what
their ideology is telling them to do, mainly
So, thereís no difference between Daesh and the
Definitely, in Syria the grassroots are the
same; the same people who were in ISIS were
before in al-Nusra, now they are moving from
organization to organization, because itís the
same ideology: itís Wahabi ideology, this is the
source of this terrorism.
This is the same enemy for you, all the
terrorists are the same?
Yeah, of course, according to the law, not for
me. As I said, according to the law and the
international law, no-one has the right to hold
armaments except the army and the police in any
country. I think the same in France, unless Iím
wrong, you can tell me, but thatís what I think,
everywhere in the world.
So, Raqqa, which is the heartland of Daesh,
where the terror attacks in France were
prepared, Raqqa is not a priority target for
No, again, theyíre not necessarily prepared in
Raqqa. Raqqa is a symbol of ISIS.
Itís a symbol.
You have ISIS close to Damascus, you have them
everywhere, you have them in Palmyra now, you
have them in the eastern part of Syria, so no,
itís not about al-Raqqa; everywhere is a
priority, depending on the development of the
battle, but for us all the same: Raqqa, Palmyra,
Idleb; all the same.
Sir, you present yourself as the main shield
against terrorism. Thereís a lot of people, in
the West in particular, would think that ISIS on
the one hand and your regime on the other hand
are the two sides, the two faces of a same evil
trying to crush any form of democratic and free
expression in this country. What would you
answer to them? Itís a real question.
First of all, weíre not a regime; we are a
state, institutions. Second one, thatís the
demonization of the Western mainstream media and
political strata regarding Syria and the Syrian
government and Syrian army, because they
supported those ďmoderatesĒ at the very
beginning, and at the beginning they said they
are ďpeaceful demonstrators,Ē then they said
ďtheyíre not peaceful, they are fighters but
they are moderate,Ē but they couldnít recognize
that they were supporting the same grassroots of
Al Qaeda and ISIS. Thatís why they say that we
are trying to promote those terrorists and to
use them as alternative so the West cannot
choose. First of all, the West doesnít have to
choose between me and ISIS: my people have to
choose, because this is a Syrian issue, to be
frank with you. So, we donít care about what the
Western officials think about this; they have to
worry about their people and to protect their
people from the terrorist attacks thatís been
happening because of their policies.
Sir, of course we are extremely shocked,
particularly in France, by the horror of
terrorism, but we are also horrified by a report
from Amnesty International released a few days
ago, last week. Itís about the prison of
Sednaya. Itís not far from here, not far from
Damas. 13,000 executed prisoners, massive
hangings, torture. Amnesty speaks Ė I read the
report Ė of a place where the Syrian state
silently slaughters its own people, the Syrian
state, your government. Mr. President, is
everything permitted in order to win the war?
Can you do everything that you want?
No, everything legal. You cannot do anythingÖ
But according to Amnesty report, seems to be
No. Thereís difference between me and you
talking about facts in thisÖ in Syria, or
talking about allegations. If you want to talk
about allegations, we can spend the time talking
about allegations, never-ending allegations.
Anyone can say whatever he wants, and we can
discuss it, but in that case, weíre not going to
talk about facts. But if you want to talk about
Amnesty, because Amnesty is known around the
world, itís shameful for such an organization to
build a report on allegations. If you take any
allegations to a court in your country, you have
court, you have judicial system, could they take
any decision regarding allegations, or they have
to look for the evidence? This report is built
on allegations, not a single shred of documents,
not a single evidence. They didnít say 13,000;
they said between 5,000 and 13, which is double
and half the number, it means itís not precise.
Thereís no mentioning of names, of anyone who is
from the victims; only 36 out of those
thousands, and there are many flaws. They said,
for example, the Grand Mufti is endorsing the
execution. The religious figures in Syria has
nothing to do with any judicial process. The
execution in Syria is legal, itís part of the
law since the independence, so the government
can execute anyone legally; why to do it
You can tell us that thereís no torture in the
prison of Sednaya as Amnesty said?
The question is torture for what? I mean, if you
want to say that we are committing torture, for
what? What do I get? Why? Just for sadism? We
are sadists? What is it for? I mean, to get
information? We have all the information, so we
donít use it, itís not our policy, because for a
simple reason: if we commit such atrocities,
itís going to play into the hands of the
terrorists, theyíre going to win. Itís about
winning the hearts of the Syrian people. If we
committed such atrocities at any stage of this
conflict, we wouldnít have the support after six
years. Itís a very simple fact. But again, if
you go back to the reports, reports should be
built on fact. Thereís not a single fact in that
report, and they have to prove it, they cannot.
But Amnesty is suggesting to send international
observers to the detention centers in Syria, to
get some proof, or to prove that youíre right,
and that thereís no crime being committed.
Whatís your answer to this proposal?
I think we need an investigation on the Amnesty
itself, when they adopt a report based on
allegations. This is a shame, shame on such an
organization that has never been impartial, itís
Testimonies of former guards and prisoners?
Itís about the sovereignty. If you have
allegations every day and reports every day, you
can spend the time receiving delegations. Would
you accept now, if you ask your government, to
send a Syrian delegation to investigate why your
army, through Sarkozy and later Hollande,
attacked the Libyans and killed tens or hundreds
of thousands? Can we go investigate the money
that Sarkozy got from the Libyan leader? Itís a
matter of sovereignty. No, weíre not going to
allow Amnesty to be here, for any reason. Iím
not talking about that report, but you have to Ė
as mainstream media Ė investigate; that report
is based on what? Just allegations? You donít
take it seriously.
So, your answer is no to the visit of
Definitely, no, no. We donít care about such a
childish report based on nothing, just
allegations. And they said they interviewed a
few witnesses who are opposition and defected,
so itís a biased report.
But you acknowledge that there are some
executions, numerous executions, official, legal
executions in Syria, going on.
Since the independence, you have it, since the
independence. Itís part of the Syrian law,
execution, if thereís a killing act, there is
execution. So, itís not about the crisis, not
about that report, itís not about that prison.
You have legal ways to do it, and itís a
Sir, letís talk about relation between France
and Syria. In a few weeks from now, a new
president will be elected in France, and among
the debates we have in our country there is the
issue of resuming dialogue with your government.
Do you hope for the renewal of diplomatic
relations with France?
Itís not about the diplomatic relations. First
of all, itís about the policy of France. So, if
we donít have this diplomatic relation, itís not
that big problem for the time being now. Maybe
in the long-term, you need to have good
relations with any country, including diplomatic
So, letís talk about the policy of France.
Exactly. The policy of France, that started from
day one, to support the terrorists in Syria, and
is responsible directly of the killings in our
How can you say itÖ itís a serious accusation
against France. How can you say that France is
They said, I didnít accuse them. They said, many
times, they supported the war, and Hollande
recently said it was a mistake not to launch war
in 2013. They said that they send armaments to
whom they call ďmoderateĒ groups, which are
terrorists. They said that, I didnít say. The
Americans said the same, the French said the
same. So, your officials Ė go back to their
statements during the last two, three, four
years, maybe Ė you have more than one
self-accusation by the French officials.
Francois Hollande is about to leave the power in
France. Youíre still there. Did you win your
struggle, your arm-wrestling with Francois
Itís not between me and him, itís not something
personal, I never met him, I donít care about
him, to be frank, and his popularity is 11
percent recently, which is rock-bottom, I think,
for any president in the history of France.
Actually, itís between me and the terrorists,
and between me and whoever supports the
terrorists. Till this moment, the terrorists
couldnít win the war, but theyíve been
destroying Syria, they killed hundreds of
thousands of Syrians, so I cannot say I won the
war. They didnít succeed in their plan, but till
this moment we havenít finished our war, so I
cannot say that I won the war.
Do you have any contactsÖ do you follow, first
of all the French political campaign, the
presidential campaign going on right now?
We follow it in general, not in details, because
we donít bet on the Western elections for one
reason, a simple reason; that we donít take the
Western officials at their word during the
campaign, because they say something for the
voters, not for the sake of the country, for the
voters to go and vote. This is reality, Iím
being frank with you.
Sir, you see, even the difference between the
right wing and the left wing in France
considering relation with Syria, you see a
Yes, you can feel it, but at the end whoever
becomes president, whatís his policy going to
be? The same as we used to see it as rhetoric
before the elections, or what? Thatís the
question. So, itís not something you bet on. Of
course, you prefer somebody who doesnít take the
position of warmonger, you prefer it, but you
For example, who do you think, who is the best
one who doesnít want war?
We donít see any big difference now, but again,
I wouldnít bet on their rhetoric. Regarding
rhetoric, thereís no big difference.
And do you have some contacts with some of the
candidates? None of them?
No, we donít have any contacts with any of them.
And with intelligence service?
In some cases, we had some indirect contacts.
With French intelligence service?
You personally, you have contact with
Actually, in one of the delegations that came to
Syria, it was parliamentarian, one from the
intelligence was part of the delegation. So,
itís involved. Of course, the French government
said ďthey are parliamentary delegation, weíre
not involved, we donít agree,Ē which is not
true. Of course, we have so many channels.
A country already changed its
president; that is the United States. One of the
first contested decisions of Donald Trump is the
Muslim ban. It intended to forbid citizens from
some Muslim countries, including Syria, to
travel to US. As a Syrian citizen, as president
of Syria, do you feel some humiliation there?
No, no, because itís not against the Syrian
people, first of all, itís against the
terrorists that could infiltrate some of the
immigrants to the West, and that happened;
happened in Europe, mainly in Germany, and it
could happen in the United States. So, I think
the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from
coming, so he took it this way. SecondÖ
So, heís in the right way, when heÖ
No, no, Iím talking about something we can
disagree or agree on as persons, but for me as
president, I wouldnít worry about that. Iím
worried about how can I bring the Syrian people
to Syria, not to send them to the United States.
I wouldnít feel happy if they could access other
countries, I will feel happy when they can come
back to Syria, because they want to come back to
Syria, the majority of the Syrians left because
of the terrorism and the embargo, the Western
embargo. So, if I want to deal with that
decision, I would ask Trump and the Western
countries to lift the embargo and to stop
supporting the terrorists. They wouldnít have
problem with this. They wonít have immigrants or
terrorists infiltrating the immigrants. Second,
this is another important point, all the fuss
that we heard about Trumpís decisions is not
because they are worried about the Syrians or
about any other countries; itís because they
want to use our cause, our problem, our
conflict, as the fuel for their conflict with
Trump, because you have other decisions that
have been taken by Obama few months ago
regarding the same issue, the mainstream media
in the United States didnít talk about it; it
only talked about Trump when he announced it
publicly and he took it in a stark way.
So, you feel more comfortable, you, with Donald
Trump than with Mr. Barack Obama?
No, I cannot feel comfortable unless I see his
policy towards Syria; I havenít seen it yet. So,
again we have to be cautious with every Western
leader because they can say something and do the
opposite, and then they can say somethingÖ do
something in the morning and do the opposite in
the evening. They wouldnít commit to anything;
they are very pragmatic till they sell their
values, they donít have values in their
But at least there is one thing that didnít
change so far, is this sort of disengagement of
the US from the region, this is pretty obvious.
A second round of negotiations is starting now
in Astana, in Kazakhstan, and itís very
striking; the Western countries are totally out
of the game, theyíre out of the picture. Is this
really good for the future of the negotiations
and the future of peace in the region?
No, the more support you have for any political
process, the better, but the Western countries
that been involved in those processes, mainly
France and UK, lost the chance of achieving
anything in Geneva, twice; two rounds in Geneva
and they couldnít achieve anything because they
supported those groups that represented the
terrorists against the government. They didnít
want to achieve peace in Syria; they wanted to
achieve their goals through the peace axis of
the whole process.
But the fact that the destiny of the Middle East
is supervised right now by two countries, Iran
and Russia, that by the way donít have a
fantastic democratic record of their own, is
that a good thing?
Again, the more involvement you have around the
world, the better, and thatís not only our
vision; thatís even the Russian vision, and the
Russians invited many countries to come and help
them in fighting terrorism and supporting this
political process, but the Western countries
isolated themselves, not Iran, not Russia. They
were very passive in dealing with all these
initiatives, like Astana; where are they? Did
the Russians tell them not to come? No, they
didnít. They didnít come.
So, Iran and Russia are promoters of peace, and
the Western countries of war?
Exactly, a hundred percent, hundred percent.
Letís continue to talk about Russia. Would you
say that Vladimir Putin is finally the real
decision-maker in the region and even in your
country, in Syria?
No, no, heís not. We are the decision-maker
regarding Syria. Regarding other countries, I
cannot talk on behalf of the others. They
respect our sovereignty; every step they took,
whether strategic step or tactical step, it was
in cooperation with Syria. They never did take a
single step without us. They base their politics
on values and on their interests, especially
regarding fighting terrorism. So, no, itís our
But would you say that without Russia, your
government would have collapsed a long time ago?
This is a hypothetical question; nobody can tell
you about the war because itís in fluctuation.
Of course, which is definite for everyone, that
without the Russian support, it would have been
worse. How much worse? I cannot tell you, no-one
can tell you. Collapsed, withstood, I cannot
tell you, but definitely, the Russian support
was very crucial in order for ISIS and al-Nusra
to re-shrink; because they were expanding after
the American alliance started its attacks,
cosmetic campaign in Syria, they were expanding
till the Russians intervened, they started
shrinking. This is reality. This is a fact.
Are you stricken by the fact that a few years
ago, most of the observers and analysts were
saying that you wouldnít last very long in
power, and especially after Aleppo, now the
possibility that you may stay is agreed by a
large number of people. So, the question is, the
question about you remaining in power, this is a
question also in Astana in the negotiations. In
our country, when a political man has a bad
record, usually, usually he doesnít stay in
power very long time. After seventeen years in
power, six years of war, three hundred thousand
plus dead in this country, a destroyed and
divided country, would you say from a moral
perspective, not a legal one, a moral
perspective, that this record allows you to
remain in power, whatever the outcome of the
negotiations might be?
You know about that terrorists who committed the
recent attacks in France last year, and then the
police killed some of them, you know about that.
What do you go to tell that policeman? Do you
tell him youíre a killer or a savior? He killed.
The same for a doctor who could take out a leg
because there is gangrene in the leg. Would you
tell him you committed atrocity, or you saved
the life of the patient? So, itís about the
reason why you commit an act, this is first. And
in our case, we were fighting the terrorists to
protect the people. Itís not my point of view;
itís a duty according to the constitution and to
the law. If I donít do that, I would be the
killer, because I will allow the terrorists to
kill more Syrians in Syria, and thatís the duty
of your army to protect the French, otherwise,
they will say ďno, we donít do anything, because
they call us a killer.Ē
So, you would say eventually that you have done
everything you could and you should for your
What I could?Definitely. What I should? The
Syrian people say, would say what I should have
done, because we have different points of view.
But regarding whoís going to say this is a bad
record when you talk about the moral part of
your question, itís only related to the Syrian
people, not the European officials to say this
is bad record or good record. They were talking
about ďAssad must go,Ē now they donít talk about
ďAssad must go.Ē I donít care about either. I
never cared about this, since the very
beginning. I care about our war against the
terrorism, about fighting their plans to destroy
our country. Thatís my worry since the
beginning. Thatís why itís the same for me
whatever they say. The record is a Syrian
record, not a European record by any means.
But when Syrian people can say if they approve
or not your policy? We have election in France
now, when is the next one in Syria?
You have two means: the current means and the
one that comes in the future at the end of the
war. That time, you can talk about any means,
whether you have ballot box, you have elections,
you have anything. In the meantime, the people
can have one means: either to support you or
not. After six years of the war, if that
president has bad record according to the Syrian
people, why would they support him? A simple
question: why do they have to support him? Why
they didnít they support the terrorists? And
according to that question when you talk about
three hundred thousand or four hundred thousand
killed, and you talk about the president killing
them, itís like youíre giving the terrorists a
certificate of good behavior because we are
killing the people and they are protecting the
people; Al Qaeda and al-Nusra and ISIS are
protecting the people. So, this is the content
of that question. Actually, no, we are fighting
for the Syrian people. Thatís why the Syrian
people supported their government and their army
and their president.
Thank you Mr. President for receiving Europe 1
Thank you very much for coming.
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