WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — US officials estimate there are as many as 30,000 fighters in the Islamic State ranks, with foreign fighters recruited from at least 90 countries worldwide. The fighters are known to have TOW anti-tank missiles, as well as US military equipment intercepted from US-trained defectors, and sympathetic governments in the Persian Gulf.
"Islamic extremism is the greatest threat the whole world faces today," Assad said on Thursday, noting that countries like the United States and Russia must "put differences aside" in order to combat the common threat.
Assad, who is the cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad, said US-Russia military cooperation is "the only possibility" to eliminate extremism in Syria.
"If we [West, Russia] work against each other…it is going to be a war that all of them are going to suffer," Assad said.
Russia has repeatedly offered to work with the United States to combat the Islamic State and other extremists in Syria since late September. US officials refused cooperation and have limited military engagement to technical deconfliction in shared combat areas.
"Those fighters with all this experience, with surface to air missiles, with TOW missiles, with the new technology of explosions, that have been trained on the ground, they can inflict a lot of chaos in western countries, in Russia, in China, and everywhere else," Assad warned.