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.
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.