In an interview with RT, the Syrian leader argued that the primary concern for Europe should not be the Syrian refugees which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now threatens to release to Europe, but the “hundreds of thousands” of jihadists Europe allied itself with.
“How can you fear those few millions, the majority of them are moderates and they have few terrorists, while you support those terrorists directly in tens of thousands at least and maybe hundreds of thousands in Syria and you don’t fear that they’re going to go back to your country?” he asked.
While there might be some extremists among those who fled the war-torn country, the majority of the refugees do not pose any acute threat, as opposed to hardened jihadists who may turn on their patrons, he added.
“Let’s say that sending those Syrians and other refugees is dangerous, the most dangerous [for] Europe is to support the terrorists in Syria, this is the most dangerous part,” Assad said.
The relationship between Europe and Turkey is love-hate, Assad said. He noted that although the EU “hates” the Turkish leader, European nations cannot but listen to what he has to say.
“Actually, the relation between Erdogan and the EU is two ways: they hate him but they want him,” he noted.
Assad, said on November 1. that his country’s ultimate goal is to restore state authority over Kurdish-controlled northeastern regions in the wake of an abrupt US troop withdrawal and a Turkish offensive against the Kurds there.
the Syrian president also said an agreement last week between Turkey and Russia to drive out Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from a 30-kilometer “safe zone” along the border was a step that would help Damascus in regaining control, though gradually, over the northeastern areas, according to Press TV.
The Turkey-Russia deal, which would halt the weeks-long Turkish invasion, calls for the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish militants from areas along the Turkish border with the aim of establishing a “safe zone” that Ankara claims will be used to repatriate some of the three-million-plus Syrian refugees it currently hosts.
Assad said during the interview that agreement is “temporary.”
“We have to distinguish between ultimate or strategic goals… and tactical approaches,” he said, stressing that his forces will eventually reclaim territory taken by Ankara’s latest offensive.
The Kurdish YPG militia had reached a deal with Damascus to take up positions near the border after US President Donald Trump’s announcement of pullout of US troops in northeastern Syria left them feeling abandoned.
Assad, however, added that Damascus will not demand that armed groups there hand over weapons immediately when the army enters those areas in a final deal with the Kurds that restores state control.
The Syrian head of state said he did not intend to call Turkey an “enemy”, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and many Turkish political elite were enemies of Syria because of their hostility towards the Arab neighbor.
“We must ensure that we don’t turn Turkey into an enemy and here comes the role of friends” such as Russia and Iran, he said.