Assad and his wife Asma meet with relatives of Syrians killed in the war in early 2015.
The President of Syria Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Italian TV channel RAI UNO. Some excerpts from the transcript:
[…] how strong Daesh is? How do you think we can fight terrorists on the ground?
President Assad: If you want to talk about the strength of Daesh, the first thing you have to ask is how much incubator, real incubator, natural incubator, you have in a certain society. Till this moment, I can tell you Daesh doesn’t have the natural incubator, social incubator, within Syria. This is something very good and very assuring, but at the same time, if it’s becoming chronic, this kind of ideology can change the society.
Question 3: Yes, but some of the terrorists were trained here, in Syria, just a few kilometers from here. What does it mean?
President Assad: That’s by the support of the Turks and the Saudi and Qatari and of course the Western policy that supported the terrorists in different ways since the beginning of the crisis, of course, but that’s not the issue. First of all, if you don’t have the incubator, you shouldn’t worry, but second, they can be strong as long as they have strong support from different states, whether Middle Eastern states or Western states. […]
Question 5: Mr. President, watching the map of Syria, it seems that Syrian-Iraqi borders doesn’t exist anymore. Which part of Syria do you really control at the moment?
President Assad: If you’re talking geographically, it’s changing every day, but the most important thing is how much of the population are under the government’s control. Actually, most of the area that’s being controlled by the terrorists has been evacuated either by the terrorists, or because the people fled to the government control. There’s the question of how much of the Syrian population still supports the government? Militarily, you can win ground, you can lose some area, but anyway the army cannot exist everywhere in Syria. But looking to the map that you described, and what I see from time to time in the Western media, when they show you that the government controls 50% or less of their ground, actually 50 or 60% of Syria is empty ground, where you don’t have anyone, so they put it under the control of the terrorists, while it’s empty, fully empty. […]
Question 16: Now in Europe, in Italy, we see so many Syrians coming, Syrian refugees, they are refugees. What would you like to tell these fleeing people, to you escaping people?
President Assad: Of course I would say everyone who leaves this country, is a loss to Syria. That’s for sure, and we feel sad, we feel the suffering, because every refugee in Syria has a long story of suffering within Syria, and that’s what we should deal with by asking the question “why did they leave?” For many reasons. The first one, the direct threat by terrorists. The second one is the influence of terrorists in destroying many of the infrastructure and affecting the livelihood of those people. But the third one, which is as important as the influence of terrorists, is the Western embargo on Syria. Many of those, if you ask him “do you want to go back to Syria” he wants to go back right away, but how can he go back to Syria while the basics of his life, his livelihood, has been affected dramatically, so he cannot stay in Syria. The embargo influence of the West and the terrorist influence has put those people between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Question 17:But don’t you feel in any way responsible for what has happened to your people?
President Assad: You mean myself?
Question 18: Yes.
President Assad:The only thing that we did since the beginning of the crisis is fighting terrorism and supporting dialogue. What else can we do? Does anyone oppose the dialogue? Does anyone oppose fighting terrorism? If you want to talk about the details, and about propaganda in the West, we shouldn’t waste our time. It’s just propaganda, because the problem from the very beginning with the West is that they don’t need this president, they want this government to fail and collapse, so they can change it. Everybody knows that. The whole Western game is regime-change, regardless of the meaning of regime; we don’t have a regime, we have a state, but I’m talking about their concept and their principle. So, you can blame whoever you want, but the main blame is on the West who supported those terrorists who created ISIS in Syria and created al-Nusra because of the umbrella that they gave to those terrorist organizations. […]