Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Berlin: Reiterating that Syrian regime was not involved in August 21 chemical attacks, President Bashar al-Assad slammed US President Barack Obama’s chemical weapons claims as “lies” and instead dubbed Russia as its “real friend”.
Assad also said that he might not run for the President of Syria next year if he people did not want him to.
Speaking in an interview to a German magazine Der Speigel, Assad said that Obama had “noting to offer other than lies”.
Condemning Aug 21 chemical attacks, the US had blamed the Assad regime for the act that according to Washington killed 1429 people.
Before Russia intervened and made Damscus agree to hand over its chemical stockpile to the international community, Obama was readying for missile strikes on Syria as a punitive action against the regime for carrying out the sarin gas attacks.
Slamming the accusations that his government was behind the poison gas attack, Assad said Obama did not have a “whisper of proof”.
Assad, instead, heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, hailing his support to Syria.
Comparing the situation of terrorism in Russia to that in Syria, Assad said, “Putin is more determined than ever to support us... He knows from his own fight against terrorism in Chechnya what we are going through here."
“We have here al Qaeda with fighters from 80 countries," he said. "There are tens of thousands of fighters that we are dealing with," Assad added.
Further praising its ally Russia in comparison to US, Assad said, "They (Russia) understand much better what this is really about here... The Russians are much more independent than you in Europe, where you all orientate yourselves so much towards the United States."
Speaking in the interview, Assad further said that he would not negotiate with the rebels until and unless they laid down their arms.
"In my view, a political opposition does not carry weapons. If someone drops his weapons and wants to return to daily life, then we can discuss it," he was quoted as saying.
Assad further said he was not sure if he would run for the next Presidential elections which will be held two months before August 2014, when his term ends.
"If I do not have the will of the people behind me anymore, I will not run," said Assad.
In a rare confession, Assad said he had personally made mistakes in the two-year long civil war raging the country but he added that no side was completely free of blame.
Assad admitted “personal mistakes by individuals” but did not explain further.