Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Putin-Netanyahu call focused on Syria - 5/31/2018 11:17:34 AM

Putin-Netanyahu call focused on Syria - 5/31/2018 11:17:34 AM

Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned US-backed Kurdish forces he would not hesitate to use force to retake the third of the country they control.

He added that direct conflict between his ally Russian Federation and the United States in Syria had only been narrowly avoided. "We need the Russian support, but we need at the same time to avoid the American foolishness in order to be able to stabilize our country".

He told Russia Today in an interview aired on Thursday that he favoured negotiations with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led outfit supported by the US-led coalition. "If not, we will resort... to liberating these areas by pressure".

"We're going to deal with it by two options: the first one we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them [SDF] are Syrians".

Last year, the USA began arming them before an offensive to recapture Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). They have to learn their lesson.

Syria's army has been bolstered by fighters from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and local militias, but it was Russia's vast 2015 military intervention that turned the tide in Assad's favour. "People don't accept foreigners in this region anymore".

In the RT interview Assad also responded sharply to U.S. President Donald Trump's description of him as an animal, saying "what you say is what you are". "We never had, and you can not hide it", Assad insisted.

In Washington, the State Department said it was not looking to fight Syrian or Iranian forces, but would use "necessary and proportionate force" to defend USA and partner forces in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

The president, however, said that Russia's threats to strike the bases of the missile launchers targeting Syria have pushed the West to make their strikes limited, otherwise it could have been a country-wide offensive by the United States and its Western backers. (Reportedly, a deal is in place to keep them there until 2092.) The Iranians just seem to enjoy causing any trouble they can stir up for the United States and Israel.

Assad also stated that Trump's invention of an insulting nickname did not move him or Syria in the slightest.

About the Israelis threats to Assad and his government, the president said the Israeli remarks and threats are a sign of their "panic" because the rebels they are backing in Syria are losing. The last thing Putin wants after going through the trouble of supporting the Syrian regime to the hilt is a situation where Israel knocks Syrian military airstrips and bases off-line, giving opposition factions renewed hope that the war could turn around for them. But large patches of territory remain beyond his control, including the expansive region north of the Euphrates River that is administered by the Syrian Kurds.

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