11:12 GMT19 February 2020
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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reiterated that the United States had been planning to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad since at least 2006.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to Assange, WikiLeaks had published information alleging that the United States was planning to oust Assad since 2006. This strategy was implemented partially by provoking the Assad government, the whistleblower said in a documentary that was broadcast Sunday, on Rossiya 1 television channel.

    Assange stated that Washington was trying to make the Syrian government paranoid and get it to "overreact," as well as to create tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

    Assange claimed that members of the US, UK and French air forces met with representatives of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, prior to December 2011. The officials said that there had already been special agents acting in Syria, but they needed more public outrage and bloodshed for a significant pretext to attack the country’s air defense systems.

    Syria has been in a civil war since 2011, with the government fighting multiple opposition factions and militant groups.

    The West and several Middle Eastern countries do not consider Assad to be the legitimate authority of Syria. In 2011, Washington imposed sanctions against him in the hope that he would step down.

    However, in the 2014 Syrian presidential election Bashar Assad won a landslide victory, receiving 88.7 percent of the votes.

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    Tags:
    ousting, WikiLeaks, Bashar al-Assad, Julian Assange, Syria, United States
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