ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
In remarks likely to further infuriate Turkish officials, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has likened his security forces’ attacks on civilians to Turkey’s fight against outlawed militants in the country’s southeast.
“We are at the moment, fighting with terrorist groups but not with [Syrian] people, and we will continue fighting because we have to protect ourselves and our people,” al-Assad was quoted as saying on Thursday by daily Cumhuriyet in the third day of publishing an exclusive interview by the daily.
“Wouldn’t you defend yourself in a similar situation? Would you let terrorist groups [win]? Why wouldn’t we [do the same], when Turkey is in armed fight under the name of a fight against terror in the southeast of the country?” Assad said. “Should we say that ‘Turkey is killing its own people?” he questioned.
As of Wednesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
had already accused the Syrian president of misinterpreting the truth. Davutoğlu said remarks from al-Assad, reported in earlier daily Cumhuriyet publications, where he said Syria didn’t know the downed jet’s identity were a lie.
In remarks published yesterday, al-Assad also blamed the revolt on Islamist militants from hostile Arab countries and an alleged Western plot to break up Syria or plunge it into civil war.
“The big game targeting Syria is much bigger than we expected,” al-Assad said. “The fight against terrorism will continue decisively in the face of this.”
He noted that Western backing and a strong army had not prevented Iran’s shah from being toppled in a revolution in 1979.
“Everybody was calculating that I would fall in a small amount of time. They all miscalculated,” he said.