Assad says government armed Kurdish group in Syria’s north

Published December 8th, 2015 - 07:00 GMT
Assad provided them arms "because they are Syrian citizens, and they want to fight terrorism." (AFP/File)
Assad provided them arms "because they are Syrian citizens, and they want to fight terrorism." (AFP/File)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has admitted his regime provided weapons to PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK.

In remarks made during a special interview with the British daily, The Sunday Times, Assad was quoted as saying: “We sent them [PYD] armaments, because they are Syrian citizens, and they want to fight terrorism”.

According to the full text of the interview, which was also published by Syria’s official news agency later, Assad said the regime had documents to prove its support for armed groups such as the PYD.

“The Kurds are fighting the terrorists with the Syrian army, in the same areas... [They are supported] mainly by the Syrian army, and we have the documents. 

“We sent them armaments, because they are Syrian citizens, and they want to fight terrorism. We do the same with many other groups in Syria, because you cannot send the army to every part of Syria. So, it is not only the Kurds. Many other Syrians are doing the same,” he said.

About his plans to stay at the helm, Assad said that he might run for president if there was an election prior to 2021 when his presidential term ends, insisting that it was his right to do so as a Syrian citizen.

 “It is about a political process. If this process is agreed on, then I have the right to run for elections like any other Syrian citizen… Anyway, it is early to talk about this, because as you know, this process was not agreed upon yet,” he said.

Assad also talked about the importance of Russian and Iranian roles in the Syrian civil war but challenged the claims that his regime would have collapsed if there were no such support.

“The Russian role is very important. It has had a significant impact on both the military and political arena in Syria. But to say that without this role, the government or the state would have collapsed, is hypothetical. 

“Since the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, there were bets on the collapse of the government.  First, it was a few weeks, then it was a few months and then a few years.  Every time it was the same wishful thinking. 

“What is definite is that the Russian support to the Syrian people and government from the very beginning, along with the strong and staunch support of Iran, has played a very important part in the steadfastness of the Syrian state in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

About the chance of a dialogue with Saudi Arabia, he did not rule the option out. “No, there is nothing impossible in politics... If they are ready and willing to change their policies, especially with regard to Syria, we don’t have a problem meeting with them,” he added. 


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