Al-Assad says West changing position on Syria war

Al-Assad says West changing position on Syria war

Al-Assad says West changing position on Syria war

ISIL militants gather at an undisclosed location in Iraq’s Nineveh. AFP photo

Western countries that backed the revolt in Syria have started to shift their positions because of the danger posed to them by jihadists, according to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The United States and the West have started to send signs of change. Terrorism is now on their soil,” said al-Assad, according to remarks published in a Lebanese newspaper.

“An American blew himself up on Syrian soil, while a Frenchman killed Jews ... in Brussels,” said al-Assad, according to al-Akhbar newspaper.

A 29-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, who had spent more than a year fighting in Syria, is being held in custody on suspicion of a May 24 shooting that killed four people in Brussels. The EU’s anti-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove said this week that Europe can expect further “small-scale attacks” like the Brussels shooting.

“I don’t expect another 9/11. I don’t expect a major sophisticated attack,” he said, adding that with more than 2,000 Europeans in Syria or on their way there, receiving military training and becoming more radicalized, the Brussels attack was “very, very worrying” for Europe’s future security.

Late last month, the United States said an U.S. national carried out a suicide attack in the north of Syria.

The Syrian regime also said it was willing to help Baghdad in the fight against “terrorism,” a day after jihadists overran Iraq’s second city of Mosul. “The foreign-backed terrorism that our brothers in Iraq are facing is the same that is targeting Syria,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement, adding that Damascus was “ready to cooperate with Iraq to face terrorism, our common enemy.”

It also described terrorism as “a threat to peace and security in the region and the world,” calling on the U.N. Security Council “to decisively condemn these terrorist and criminal acts and to take action against the countries supporting these groups.”        

Last week, leaders of the G-7 group of industrialized nations announced a decision to tighten their defenses against the risk of terror attacks by European jihadists returning from Syria.

Separately, former U.N. envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has warned of the danger posed by the rise of extremist Islamist groups in Syria, and the threat posed to the West. He said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was “active in both Syria and Iraq already, and Jordan is really struggling to continue resisting. Even Turkey.”  

“These are your nationals that are training in Syria and that are part of [ISIL], which believes that you have got to build an Islamic state all over the world. That’s a threat to you, isn’t it?” Brahimi told Der Spiegel magazine.