09:50 GMT +314 November 2019
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    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad giving an interview. File photo

    Assad Says US Claims of Eliminating Daesh Leader Need Verification

    © AFP 2019 / HO/SANA
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    DAMASCUS (Sputnik) - Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that Damascus had no contacts with the United States on the elimination of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and will not believe that he was really killed until reliable evidence is presented.

    "We had no contact with American authorities on the elimination of al-Baghdadi. More importantly, we do not know whether this operation actually took place or not", Assad said in an interview with Syrian state-run television channels.

    Assad noted that the US had not yet provided any evidence of the elimination of the Daesh* leader, and Damascus found out about its 'help' to the United States solely from media reports.

    At the same time, the Syrian president emphasized that the death of al-Baghdadi or even all the militants would not affect the general situation while the terrorist ideology is alive.

    Assad also said in the interview that Russia, Iran, and Syria were fighting against terrorism jointly and that it was incorrect to talk about Moscow's alleged pressure on Damascus regarding the operation in Idlib.

    He noted that the Syrian authorities were in contact with residents of terrorist-controlled territories in Idlib. According to the president, the authorities prefer political options for settlement, as they save the lives of soldiers.

    Speaking about the militants in Idlib, Assad emphasised that they have only two ways if they do not leave for Turkey. The first way is to lay down arms and go through the rehabilitation process under the reconciliation program, the second option is war.

    As for Russia-Turkey agreement on northeastern Syria, Assad said that it is based on today's realities and these are temporary in nature.

    "Russia proceeds from the sovereignty of Syria and the integrity of its territories, and this policy has not changed, but at the same time, Russia's policy is connected with modern realities. The Russian-Turkish treaty is temporary and not permanent. And we must distinguish final and strategic goals from tactics", Assad said.

    In his interview, the Syrian president touched upon US President Donald Trump as well, sarcastically characterising him as the best leader in the country's history due to his blunt approach to policy.

    "He is the best bot because if good policies, but because he is the most transparent, he talks straight 'we need oil,' 'we want to get rid of someone,' 'we want to exchange favors for money.' Such is the United States policy. What can be better than an honest enemy?" Assad said.

    He went on to call all US presidents "criminals," who, nevertheless, occasionally receive the Nobel Peace Prize while in reality serving interests of lobbying groups.

    Earlier in the month, President Assad called for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from northeastern Syria where Turkish troops have conducted an operation against local Kurdish militants. 

    Bashar Assad has been fighting against different insurgent groups, often backed by Washington, in a devastating civil war since 2011. The Syrian government has regained control over most of the territories that were seized by Daesh*, however counterterrorist operations still continue in a number of areas.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia

    Tags:
    Daesh, United States, Donald Trump, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Bashar al-Assad, Syria
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