BEIRUT, April 18 (RIA Novosti) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned the West that it will pay a price for supporting terrorists linked to Al Qaeda in Syria and warned that the conflict may eventually spread beyond Syrian borders.
"Just as the West financed al-Qaida in Afghanistan in its beginnings, and later paid a heavy price, today it is supporting it in Syria, Libya and other places and will pay the price later in the heart of Europe and the United States," Assad said in an hour-long interview with state-run Al-Ikhbariya channel on Wednesday.
The embattled Syrian leader did not elaborate on evidence supporting his claims of alleged support of ‘terrorists’ in Syria by the West and some Arab countries, but reiterated that the external interference “has been fueling the Syrian conflict from the very beginning.”
Last year, the Syrian government presented the UN Security Council with lists of hundreds of foreign nationals who had been killed fighting against government troops in Syria.
Jabhat al-Nusra, a Jihadist militant group fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, has recently pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, seeking to establish an Islamic regime in Syria.
Assad also lashed out at neighboring Jordan for allowing ‘thousands’ of well-armed rebels and foreign mercenaries to enter Syria. According to some media reports, Jordan has been facilitating arms shipments and hosting training camps for Syrian rebels since last October.
"We would wish that our Jordanian neighbors realize that... the fire will not stop at our borders; all the world knows Jordan is just as exposed [to the crisis] as Syria," he said.
Calling the fight against the rebels a ‘war on terror,’ Assad reiterated that the fall of his government would lead to Syria’s demise and vowed that he will not surrender.
“There is no option but victory,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Friends of Syria group countries supporting the Syrian opposition demand for Assad to step down as a precondition for national reconciliation, is set to meet in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss further assistance to Syrian rebels and refugees.
Russia, which together with China has vetoed two UN resolutions imposing sanctions on Assad’s regime, reiterated on Wednesday that the Friends of Syria group played a ‘negative role’ in the Syrian conflict by encouraging extremists to seize power in the country by force.
The Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011 with peaceful protests demanding reforms, has gradually turned into a civil war in response to the government’s military crackdown on the protesters.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations, and the death toll is growing every day as the fierce fighting between government troops and rebels continues
In addition, the UN Refugee Agency estimates the number of persons displaced by the conflict at 1.3 million people, with almost 1.1 million officially registered and some 250,000 awaiting registration.