Question 1: Thank you, Mr. President, for giving an opportunity for this interview, and I will start with the recent tragic event in Aleppo, where the majority of those killed and wounded were children. Who do you think organized this crime, and on what purpose?
President Assad: A few months ago, the same agreement was about to be implemented, but as you know, you’re talking about different factions, all of them are linked to Al Qaeda or al-Nusra Front, and one of those factions attacked the buses that wanted to transport the same civilians outside of al-Foua’a and Kefraya beside Aleppo, and they attacked those buses and they burned them, and it was shown on the internet, where they said “we won’t allow this reconciliation to happen, we’re going to kill every civilian that wants to use the buses,” and that’s what happened. When we thought that everything is ready to implement that reconciliation, they did what they announced, and they are al-Nusra Front, they didn’t hide themselves from the very beginning, and I think everybody agrees that this is al-Nusra.
Question 2: Any specific group or al-Nusra itself?
President Assad: No, because when you talk about al-Nusra, it’s their ideology, so different names – and as you know al-Nusra itself changed its name – so different names doesn’t mean changing the ideology or the behavior or the course of killing. So, it doesn’t matter what’s the name.
Question 3: And how many people have died since the beginning of the war, at this point?
President Assad: Actually, we can talk only about official numbers. It’s tens of thousands, not like what you hear in the media about hundreds of thousands. Of course, we can talk about thousands of missing people that we don’t know anything about their fate. This is the official number. But in the West, of course they add altogether the number of the terrorists, and a large amount of the terrorists of course they’re not registered at the state as killed or dead, and the same thing about the foreigners who came to Syria in tens or maybe hundreds of thousands to fight. So, the numbers that we’ve been hearing in the Western media during the last six years were not precise, it’s only to inflate the number just to show how horrible the situation, to use it as humanitarian pretext to intervene in Syria. So, as a state, we only talk about tens of thousands of victims till this moment.
Question 4: So, you’re not agreeing with the number that the United Nations give?
President Assad: No, because the United Nations doesn’t have any means to calculate the numbers, and actually no-one has, as I said, because you’re talking about different factions; foreigners, Syrians and terrorists and so on, so it’s complicated to tell. The only thing that we have are the official records. Of course, it must be higher than the official record, but we cannot just estimate and give any number.