President Bashar Al-Assad's Interview with the Australian SBS TV, July 1, 2016

 DAMASCUS,(ST)_ H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad gave an interview to the Australian SBS TV channel. The following is the full text of the interview, as Published by the official News Agency (SANA):

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for speaking with SBS Australia.

President Assad: You’re most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: It’s now more than five years since the Syrian crisis began. It’s estimated somewhere around a quarter of a million people have been killed, many of them civilians. There’s an undeniable humanitarian disaster. How far into the crisis do you think you are, and is there an end in sight?

President Assad: Of course, there is an end in sight, and the solution is very clear. It’s simple yet impossible. It’s simple because the solution is very clear, how to make dialogue between the Syrians about the political process, but at the same time fighting the terrorism and the terrorists in Syria. Without fighting terrorists, you cannot have any real solution. It’s impossible because the countries that supported those terrorists, whether Western or regional like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, don’t want to stop sending all kinds of support to those terrorists. So, if we start with stopping this logistical support, and as Syrians go to dialogue, talk about the constitution, about the future of Syria, about the future of the political system, the solution is very near, not far from reach.

Question 2: Much of the reporting in the West at the moment suggests that the demise of the Islamic State is imminent. Do you believe that’s true, and how far away from seizing Raqqa, this very important city of Raqqa, do you believe you are?

President Assad: It’s not a race. Raqqa is as important as Aleppo, as Damascus, as any other city. The danger of those terrorist groups is not about what land do they occupy, because it’s not a traditional war. It’s about how much of their ideology can they instill in the mind of the people in the area that they sit or live in. Indoctrination, this is the most dangerous thing. So, reaching Raqqa is not that difficult militarily, let’s say. It’s a matter of time. We are going in that direction. But the question when you talk about war is about what the other side, let’s say the enemy, could do, and that’s directly related to the effort of Turkey, especially Erdogan, in supporting those groups, because that’s what’s happening since the beginning. If you talk about Syria as an isolated military field, you can reach that area within a few months or a few weeks, let’s say, but without taking into consideration the Turkish effort in supporting the terrorists, any answer would be a far cry from the reality, an un-factual answer.

Question 3: Mr. President, how concerned are you about recent fatal clashes which have been reported between your longtime ally Hezbollah and your own forces?

There is good Syrian-Russian-Iranian coordination on fighting terrorism

President Assad:Fighting between us and Hezbollah? They are not fighting. They support the Syrian Army. They don’t fight against the Syrian Army, they fight with the Syrian Army. The Syrian Army and Hezbollah, with the support of the Russian Air Forces, we are fighting all kinds of terrorist groups, whether ISIS or al-Nusra or other affiliated groups with Al Qaeda that’s affiliated automatically to al-Nusra and ISIS.

Question 4: So, there have been some recent reports of clashes between… are those reports incorrect.

President Assad: No, they are talking not about clashes; about, let’s say, differences and different opinions. That’s not true, and if you look at the meeting that happened recently between the Ministers of Defense in Iran, in Tehran; Syrian, Russian, and Iranian, this means there’s good coordination regarding fighting terrorism.

Question 5: To be clear, do you categorize all opposition groups as terrorists?

President Assad: Definitely not, no. When you talk about an opposition group that adopts the political means, they’re not terrorists. Whenever you hold machineguns or any other armaments and you terrorize people and you attack civilians and you attack public and private properties, you are a terrorist. But if you talk about opposition, when you talk about opposition it must be Syrian opposition. It cannot be a surrogate opposition that works as a proxy to other countries like Saudi Arabia or any other country. It must be a Syrian opposition that’s related to its Syrian grassroots, like in your country. It’s the same, I think.

President Bashar Al-Assad's Interview with Russia’s RIA Novosti and Sputnik, March 30-31, 2016.

 President Al-Assad to RIA Novosti and Sputnik: Syria is not prepared for federalism

President Bashar Al-Assad said that Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva established the basic principles on which negotiations will be built, and that what was achieved in the first round is the beginning of setting a methodology for successful negotiations, SANA reported.

In an interview given to Russia’s RIA Novosti and Sputnik news agencies, President al-Assad said that political transition means moving from one constitution to another, and that this transitional period should continue under the present constitution, and then move to the next constitution after it is voted on by the Syrian people, adding that talking about a transitional body is illogical and unconstitutional.

His Excellency stressed that the Russian military support, the support of Syria’s friends, and the Syrian military achievements will all lead to accelerating the political solution and not the opposite, asserting that Syria is not prepared for federalism, and that there are no natural factors which might lead to federalism in it, adding “I don’t believe that if it was put to the vote, will be endorsed by the Syrian people.”

The President also said that terrorism in Syria and Iraq is supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and some Western countries like France and Britain, while other countries behave like bystanders and onlookers, affirming that the Western sanctions imposed on Syria are one of the causes of the emigration issue.

Following is the full text of the first part of the interview:

Question 1: A lot is being said about the Syrian refugees. The large majority of refugees in Europe present themselves as Syrians, even Pakistanis do so. According to German figures, 77% of them do not have identification documents. We want to understand how you assess the number of the refugees who were forced to leave the country and why they have fled the country, and the number of those displaced within Syria. We would like to get the figures right concerning this issue.

President Assad: Of course, there are no accurate figures about those who left Syria or were displaced inside Syria. There are approximate figures, because people move inside Syria without registering themselves as displaced people. They go to villages where they have relatives and live with friends’ families. Most of them come from areas where there are terrorists and move to areas controlled by the state, seeking safety. But I don’t believe that the problem is that of figures. The problem is that up till now, there is no serious action taken by many countries of the world to solve the problem of these people. They deal with the issue of emigration as if it only concerned the outside world. They want to receive them in some European countries, provide them with shelter and aid, and probably send some aid to those displaced inside Syria. This doesn’t solve the problem. The main problem is that of terrorism. That’s why we should fight terrorism on the international level, because terrorism is not related to Syria alone. It exists in Iraq, it is supported directly by Turkey, by the Saudi royal family, and some Western countries like France and Britain. Other countries behave like bystanders and onlookers. They don’t take any serious action. I believe that herein lies the problem, not in the figures themselves.

President Assad's ARD Interview, March 1, 2016.

H.E. President Bashar Assad asserted that terrorists breached the cessation of hostilities agreement from the very first hour, while the Syrian Army has refrained from retaliating in order to give the chance for the agreement to survive.

President Al-Assad added in an interview given to ARD German television that every Syrian gunman should give up armament, and he shouldn’t bear weapon or hurt individuals or properties in order to return as a Syrian civilian and “we give him full amnesty.”

Following is the full text of the interview, as published by the official News Agency SANA:

Journalist:  Mr. President, thank you so much for granting us this interview on behalf of ARD German television.

President Assad:  You’re most welcome in Syria.

Question 1:  Yesterday, we were filming at the Omayyad Mosque, and we had some interviews with the people on the ceasefire.  There was one guy selling shawarma, and he said “maybe this is a historical day.”  So, my question, Mr. President is: would you agree that this was a historical day, and are we at a special time of Syrian history?

President Assad:  Let’s say I hope, rather than agree; because we agreed on the cessation of hostility, as we announced last week… let’s say it’s a glimmer of hope now, for the Syrians, for all of us.  But usually, when you have a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities or any such agreement, which is bilateral, it’s going to be difficult to keep and save, let alone when it’s multilateral.  When you talk about multilaterals, and when I say multilaterals you’re talking about more than one hundred factions of terrorists and so many other countries that support them.  Or let’s say you talk about two camps with contradicting goals regarding the cessation of hostilities or that agreement.  So, let’s say we hope, and we are going to do our job to make it work, but it’s not enough to have the good will.

Question 2:  What are you doing, you and the Syrian government, to make it stable, the ceasefire?

President Assad:  Actually, it started less than 48 hours ago; as you’ve been here for the last few days, I think you know that the terrorists breached the agreement from the very first hour.  As for the Syrian Army, we have refrained ourselves from retaliating in order to give the chance for the agreement to survive.  That’s what we can do, but at the end everything has a limit.  It depends on the other side.

President Assad's Interview with Spanish El Pais Newspaper, February 21, 2016.

H.E. President Bashar Assad asserted that the cessation of military operations requires preventing the terrorists from using it to improve their position, as well as preventing other countries, especially Turkey, from sending more recruits, more terrorists, more armaments, or any kind of logistical support to terrorists, adding that the Russian and the Iranian support were essential for the Syrian Army to make its advancement.

This came in an interview given by President Assad to Spanish newspaper El Pais. Following is the full text of the interview, according to the official News Agency, SANA:

Question 1: You have recently allowed humanitarian aid to go into seven besieged areas. Some claim there are at least 486,000 people living in those areas, some for even more than three years. Why did this happen so late in the conflict?

President Assad: Actually, it hasn’t happened recently; it’s been there since the beginning of the crisis. We never make embargo on any region in Syria. There’s a difference between embargo and the army surrounding a certain area because of the militants, and that’s natural in such a security case or military case. But the problem with those areas is that the militants themselves took the food and the basic needs of those people, the people there, and gave it to their militants or sell it to the people with very high prices. As a government, we never prevent any area from having assistance, including the areas under the control of ISIS, like al-Raqqa in the north that’s been under their control, and before that al-Nusra for nearly three years now. We’ve been sending them all the salaries for the retired people, all the salaries for the employees today, and we send them vaccines for the children.

Question 2: So, food and salaries still go into even al-Raqqa and Islamic State strongholds?

President Assad: Exactly. So, if we send it to al-Raqqa, which is under the control of ISIS, because we think as a government that we are responsible of every Syrian people, how can we not do it in other areas? That’s not realistic, that’s contradiction. So, that’s why I said it’s not recently; we never stopped allowing the assistance, or, what do you call it, food.

President Assad's AFP Interview

 H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad gave, according to SANA, the following interview to AFP News Agency, February 12, 2016.

Journalist: Mr. President, we would like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions in these crucial moments in the history of Syria and the region.

Question 1: How do you feel when you see tens of thousands of your citizens starving, running away from hunger, from their areas, which are being shelled by your Russian allies, and trying to cross the borders to Turkey? And how do you feel when you see the pictures of them drowning in their attempt to cross the seas?

President Assad: If we talk about emotions, I belong to this people; and it is self-evident that I have the same feelings my people have. Any scene of suffering is painful to all of us as Syrians. But as an official, the question for me is less about emotions than about what I, as an official, should do, being responsible before my people.

However, when the cause of this suffering is the terrorists, not the Russian shelling, as claimed by Western media, and when one cause for migration is the almost five-year-old embargo against the Syrian people, naturally my, and every Syrian official’s first task is to fight terrorism essentially using Syrian capabilities, but also using our friends’ support in the fight against terrorism. That’s why I say the problem of Syrian refugees abroad, as well as the problem of hunger inside Syria, as you referred to it, is a problem caused by terrorism, Western policies, and the embargo imposed on the Syrian people.