In an interview with Russia's RT television network on Thursday, Assad said that following the liberation of the cities of Aleppo, Dayr la-Zawr, Homs, and Damascus, the US is actually “losing its cards.”
“The main card was al-Nusra that was called ‘moderate.’ But when the scandal started leaking, that they are not moderate, they are al-Qaeda ..., they (the Americans) looked for another card. This card is the SDF now,” he said, referring to the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-dominated alliance of militants operating near the Turkish border.
Assad further said his government has two options in dealing with the SDF issue.
“The first one: we started now opening doors for negotiations. Because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country, they don't like to be puppets to any foreigners,” he said in English.
“If not, we’re going to resort... to liberating those areas by force,” Assad said.
“We don’t have any other option. So, this is our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it, and the Americans should leave, somehow they’re going to leave,” he said.
Assad further urged the US to “to learn the lesson” from Iraq, saying, “People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore.”
Elsewhere, Assad was asked about the possibility of an assault by the US and its allies on Syria similar to the tripartite missile attack last month.
“Of course, it could, because when the Unites States trampled over the international law, on a daily basis sometimes in different areas for different reasons, any country in the world could have such an attack,” he said. “So, as long as you don’t have an international law that could be obeyed by the United States and its puppets in the West, there is no guarantee that it won’t happen.”
On April 14, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.
The strike came one week after the Western states blamed the Syrian government for a suspected gas attack in the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region.
Assad said that the Douma incident came after the victory of the Syrian troops in Eastern Ghouta, where locals and even Western journalists saying they had not seen any chemical attack.
“So, it was a narrative, it was just a pretext in order to attack Syria,” he said.
Assad reiterated that Syria does not have any chemical weapons and is not going to use them against its own people “because the battle in Syria was about winning the hearts of the civilians, this is the main battle, and we won it.”
The Syrian leader also said those military strikes raised the possibility of a response from Russia, whose forces are helping the Syrian army.
“We were close to have direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces,” he said. “Fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership.”
Syria boosting air defenses in face of Israel
Asked about Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s threat to “liquidate” Assad and “topple” his government, the Syrian head of state said such comments are merely aimed at creating “panic.”
“This is a kind of hysterical feeling, because they are losing the dear ones ... al-Nusra and ISIS (Daesh),” he pointed out.
Assad further said Israel has from the start of the crisis in Syria been in contact with the anti-Damascus militants. The terrorists, he said, took aim at Syria’s air defenses as their primary target, something that reveals they are serving Israeli interests.
“The first target of the mercenaries in Syria was the air defense. Before attacking any other military base it was the air defense… This is the other proof that Israel was in direct link with those terrorists in Syria. So, they attacked those bases, and they destroyed a big part of our air defenses,” he said
Assad, however, ensured that Syria’s “defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support, and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation.”
He rejected Israel’s claims last month that it had targeted Iranian troops in Syria as “a lie.”
“The most important fact regarding this issue, is that we do not have Iranian troops. We never had, and you cannot hide it,” the Syrian president said.
He, however, noted that there were only “Iranian officers who work with the Syrian Army as help.”
“The starkest fact about their (the Israelis’) lies about this issue, the Iranian issue, is the recent attack a few weeks ago,” he said. “They said that they attacked Iranian bases and camps ... and actually we had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers, not a single Iranian.”