Bashar Assad Mocks US Airstrikes on ISIL as Not "Serious"
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks published Wednesday that US-led airstrikes targeting Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants in his country are neither serious nor efficient, claiming they have failed to produce any tangible results.
He also accused Turkey of continuing to provide direct support to the militants.
Assad spoke in a rare interview conducted Nov. 28 in Damascus with Paris Match magazine, his first in months. His comments critical of the US airstrikes appear intended to give the impression that his forces are the most effective in fighting Islamic extremists.
"You can't end terrorism with aerial strikes. Troops on the ground that know the land and can react are essential," the magazine quoted Assad as saying. "That is why there haven't been any tangible results in the two months of strikes led by the coalition."
Both Assad's forces and the US have been bombing ISIL targets in northern Syria, although US officials say they don't coordinate strikes with his embattled government.
Assad said the US strikes "would of course have helped had they been serious and efficient."
"We are running the ground battles against Daesh, and we have noticed no change, especially with Turkey providing direct support to these regions," he was quoted as saying, using an Arabic acronym for the group.
Assad has insisted throughout Syria's nearly 4-year-old conflict that he has been fighting foreign-inspired extremists and "terrorists" - not Syrians, AP reported.
Asked by the magazine about whether he was afraid of suffering the same demise as former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein or Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, Assad reportedly replied: "The captain doesn't think about death, or life, he thinks about saving his ship. If he thinks about sinking, everyone will die."