5,000 terrorists entered Aleppo via Turkey in 2 months: Assad
The Syrian president has shed more light on the role of foreign powers in inflaming the conflict in his country, saying over 5,000 terrorists have entered the northwestern city of Aleppo via the Turkish border over the past two months.
Bashar al-Assad made the remarks in an interview with Cuba’s official news agency Prensa Latina released on Thursday.
He said that Turkey and its allies such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia lost most of their cards on the battlefield in Syria and now they are left with the Aleppo card.
They “worked hard … to send as much as they can of the terrorists – the estimation is more than 5,000 terrorists – to Aleppo… during the last two months, in order to recapture the city…, and that didn’t work,” he added.
President Assad also referred to gains by the Syrian forces against the terrorists, saying, “Actually, our army has been making advancement in Aleppo and the suburbs of Aleppo in order to encircle the terrorists.”
He further noted that terrorists active in Syria enjoy backing from around the world.
There are more than 100 nationalities participating in the war on Syria, he said, adding that the militants receive “logistical support” from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey under the supervision of the Western countries, mainly the United States, France, the UK and some other allies.
Elsewhere in his comments, Assad hailed the Russian air campaign in support of the Syrian armed forces, saying it has helped the Syrian soldiers advance against terrorists.
Last September, Russia launched its air campaign against Daesh and other terrorist groups upon a request by the Damascus government.
On the contrary, the US along with some of its allies has been conducting air raids against what are said to be the Daesh terrorists in Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate since September 2014. The raids have killed many civilians and inflicted heavy losses on the country’s infrastructure.
Since the beginning of the collation airstrikes, Daesh has been expanding rather than shrinking, Assad said, emphasizing that the terror group “has only started to shrink when the Russian support to the Syrian Army took place.”
Explaining the priority of the Syrian army in its anti-terror battle, the Syrian leader said that the focus is on fighting Daesh, al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam terrorist groups.
Touching on the role of the United Nations or the Security Council in the Syria crisis, he accused the word body of operating as “an American arm, where they can use it the way they want, they can impose their double standards on it instead of the Charter.”
Asked about the insistence of the US and its allies on the ouster of the Syrian government, Assad said “only the Syrian people can say who should come and go, who should stay in his position, who should leave, and the West knows our position very well regarding this.”
Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in the Middle Eastern state, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.