Peace in Syria when West ends support for `terrorists', says Assad

Asked what it would take to bring an end to Syria`s devastating four-year civil war, Assad said: "When those countries that I mentioned -- France, UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other -- stop supporting those terrorists."

Prague: President Bashar al-Assad said peace would only come to war-torn Syria when the West and its Middle Eastern allies "stop supporting terrorists", in an interview aired Tuesday on Czech TV.

Asked what it would take to bring an end to Syria`s devastating four-year civil war, Assad said: "When those countries that I mentioned -- France, UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other -- stop supporting those terrorists."

The next "day the situation will be better and in a few months we will have full peace in Syria, definitely. If they stop," said Assad, whose regime receives direct military backing from Russia.

"If you want to fight and defeat them (terrorists), you have to cut and suffocate their supplies, their armaments, money ... coming mainly through Turkey and with the support of the Saudis and the Qataris," he said.

Since the outbreak of the 2011 revolt that later morphed into a brutal, multi-front civil war, Assad`s regime has branded all its opponents, armed or unarmed, "terrorists".

The United States and other Western powers fighting Islamic State jihadists, who claimed responsiblity for the deadly November 13 attacks in Paris, have long insisted Assad must step down as part of any political solution to the Syrian conflict.

France has been adamant in its opposition to Assad, describing him as a "butcher" of his own people amid the civil war that has so far claimed a quarter million lives and created millions of refugees, triggering the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

On a trip to Washington last week, French President Francois Hollande reiterated his determination to see Assad step down in order to give Syria a chance for peace, saying "it should be as soon as possible."

"He has been the problem -- he cannot be the solution," Hollande said.

Assad hit back Tuesday, telling Czech public TV that the French only stepped up bombing of Islamic State targets after the Paris terror attacks "to dissipate the feeling of the French (people), nothing serious."

He meanwhile described military assistance provided to his regime by Russian President Vladimir Putin as "very serious in fighting terrorism."

Turning to a showdown between Turkey and Russia over Ankara`s downing of a Russian jet fighter forces along the Turkish-Syrian border, Assad said opposition supporter Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was playing with fire.

"I think it (shooting down Russian jet) has shown the real intention of Erdogan who, let`s say, lost his nerve just because the Russian intervention has changed the balance on the ground.

"So the failure of Erdogan in Syria, the failure of his terrorist groups means his political demise," he added.

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