20:05 GMT +307 December 2019
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    In this photo released on July 1, 2016, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Australia's SBS news channel, in Damascus, Syria

    Assad Says Saudi Arabia Wanted Syria to Cut Ties With Iran

    © AP Photo / SANA
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    Syrian President Bashar Assad says Saudi Arabia has promised him support if Damascus cuts ties with Iran.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – According to Assad, Saudi Arabia wanted to use the internal crisis in Syria to blackmail Damascus.

    "If we were to move away from Iran and announced that we were refusing all relations with Iran, they said they would help me," Assad told Russia's Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, specifying that the offer was made after the start of the conflict in Syria.

    The Syrian president stressed that Saudi Arabia supports the spread of radical Islamist ideology throughout the world.

    "The main thing is to stop the flow of money provided by the Saudi government and their NGO’s and institutions that promote Wahhabi ideology [ultraconservative Sunni Islam] throughout the world," Assad emphasized.

    Syria's civil war between government forces and a wide range of insurgents, including opposition groups and terrorists, such as Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al Sham (also known as al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra) has raged for some five years and has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

    A meeting on the situation in Syria with the participation of Russia, the United States and regional powers including Saudi Arabia and Turkey will take place on Saturday.

    Bashar al-Assad, Iran, Syria
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