The Syrian president denies the Syrian or Russian armies were behind Monday’s airstrikes near Aleppo; accuses the US of bearing responsibility for breaking the cease-fire and of lacking ‘the will’ to oppose rebel factions within Syria.
President Bashar Assad rejected US accusations that Syrian or Russian planes struck an aid convoy in Aleppo or that his troops were preventing food from entering the city’s rebel-held eastern neighborhoods, blaming the US for the collapse of a cease-fire many had hoped would bring relief to the war-ravaged country.
In an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Assad also said deadly US airstrikes on Syrian troops last week were intentional, dismissing American officials’ statements that they were an accident. Assad said the US lacked “the will” to join forces with Russia in fighting extremists.
Assad, who inherited power from his father and is now in his 16th year in office, cut a confident figure during the interview—a sign of how his rule, which once seemed threatened by the rebellion, has been solidified by his forces’ military advances and by the air campaign of his ally Russia, which turned the tables on the battlefield last year.
He said his enemies alone were to blame for nearly six years of devastation across Syria, and while acknowledging some mistakes, he repeatedly denied any excesses by his troops. He said the war was only likely to “drag on” because of continued external support for his opponents.