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Assad: Alliance Strikes against ISIL ’Not Serious’

“Who Created Islamic State, Syria or United States?

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad giving an interview to the French magazine "Paris Match" in Damascus on December 3, 2014. Coalition strikes against the ISIS group are having no impact, Assad said in an interview, as members of the US-led offensive claimed to be winning.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed on Wednesday that had Qatar not paid money to the terrorists operating in Syria at the beginning of the crisis, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different.

In an interview with “Paris Match” Magazine, Assad strongly rejected the idea that Syrian army has an objective to shell civilians, stating that if the state hasn't been defending the people, it wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure.

"If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years?" he said.

"Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when.

But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war," he underlined.

Answering a question about the fall of Libyan and Iraqi presidents, Assad  said "the state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first."

"Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles," he added.

Moreover, the Syrian President emphasized that the US-led campaign against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group "is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case.

So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty."

"Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIL on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions," Assad highlighted.

Answering a question about France position regarding Syria, the Syrian President stated that "the good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative. It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran. The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will. Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent."

"The issue has nothing to do with personal relations. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them. But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people," he added.

"I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIL, because his popularity is close to that of ISIL," he pointed out.