Trump Travel Ban Targeted 'Terrorists' Not Syrian People, Assad Says

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Syrian President Bashar Assad defended President Donald Trump's ban on Syrians entering the U.S., saying it targeted "terrorists" and not the Syrian people, in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Trump last month summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely. The highly controversial decree, which was suspended by a federal judge, also barred travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria, for 90 days. 

In an interview with French media Assad expressed understanding for the ban.

"It's not against the Syrian people... it's against the terrorists that could infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West and that happened. It happened in Europe, mainly in Germany and could happen in the United States," he told Europe 1 radio and TF1 television channels in the interview in Damascus.

"For me, as president, I would not worry about that," he said, accusing Trump's critics of seizing on the ban "as the fuel for the conflict with Trump."

The interview came as Syrian government representatives and rebel groups began new peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The talks aim to shore up a faltering six-week truce and pave the way for new U.N.-brokered talks on a political solution to the six-year conflict.

Assad revealed that retaking the Islamic State's Syrian bastion of Raqa -- a key objective of the U.S.-led coalition battling the jihadists -- was not a priority for his forces.

"Raqa is a symbol," he said, 

"You have ISIS close to Damascus, you have them everywhere," Assad said, using another acronym for IS.

"For us it is all the same, Raqa, Palmyra, Idlib, it's all the same," vowing to win back "every inch" of Syrian territory.

The French particularly have been pushing for an operation to flush IS out of Raqa, as the suspected incubator of some of the attacks that have claimed 238 lives in France over the past two years.

Across the border, Iraqi forces are four months into a massive operation to drive IS out of the city of Mosul. In Syria, an Arab-Kurd rebel alliance has begun advancing on Raqa with the aim of liberating the city.

- Winning hearts -

In the interview, Assad again denied recent allegations by Amnesty International of executions and atrocities perpetrated at a prison near Damascus.

Assad said Amnesty's "biased" report contained "not a single fact (or) evidence" to support allegations that some 13,000 people were hanged at the Saydnaya prison between 2011 and 2015.

On the use of torture, he said, "We don't do this, it's not our policy," adding: "Torture for what? ... For sadism?...  to get information? We have all the information."

He argued: "If we commit such atrocities it's going to play into the hands of the terrorists, they're going to win. It's about winning the hearts of the Syrian people, if we commit such atrocities... we wouldn't have (popular) support (through) six years" of war.

He was also scathing of the West's fruitless attempts to mediate in the six-year conflict that has claimed more than 300,000 lives.

The West, he said, "did not want to achieve peace in Syria."

Over the past year, Russia and Iran have helped turn the tables in Assad's favor with their military backing, while Turkey supports rebels fighting to oust the strongman. 

The talks in Astana are viewed as a warm-up for U.N.-led negotiations that are due to begin in Geneva on February 23.

Comments 21
Thumb ex-fpm 3 days

On the use of torture, Assad said, "We don't do this, it's not our policy," adding: "Torture for what? ... For sadism?... to get information? We have all the information."

We in Lebanon can vouch for the veracity of this butcher's claims. Anjar and Beau Rivage are just mirages that existed in the Lebanese people's paranoid minds.

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 3 days

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad told Europe1 radio station that he was completely against the visit of any Amnesty International observers to Syria: "No, we will not let Amnesty come here. Under no circumstances and for no reason."

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 3 days

The ban actually targetted all Syrian. Hence, criminal Assad called every Syrian a terrorist.

Thumb justin 3 days

haha! Where are the iranian trolls of the forum now that their master is saying ""For me, as president, I would not worry about that," he said, accusing Trump's critics of seizing on the ban "as the fuel for the conflict with Trump."

looool

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 3 days

The one paid troll with multiple account is probably on another site.

Thumb habib 3 days

Faja2kon moheek

Thumb gigahabib 2 days

As Assad has said before, it is not his responsibility to make it easier for Syrians to leave their homeland to live in other countries. He wants them to stay in Syria, which all Lebanese should support.

Missing opinion1 2 days

@ gigahabib
If Assad wanted Syrian refugees to stay, then why hasn't he taken back all of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon after he had liberated Homs, Qusair. Yabroud. Qalamoun and now Aleppo.

Thumb gigahabib 2 days

If he doesn't want them to stay, why are there millions upon millions of internal refugees in government controlled areas?

Missing opinion1 2 days

@gigahab
Because for some reasons it was easier for them to flee to these areas, and now thay they are in Assad areas, they stuck waiting for their asylum applications to take them anywhere away from Syria's Assad, haven't cleared yet.

Missing opinion1 2 days

@gigahab
Just 2 days ago Nassrallah admitted that Syrian refugees in Lebanon are not returning to Syria because they are scared of Assad.
Hezbollah & Assad propaganda have been spewing lies that Assad got 87% of the votes of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Yet Nassrallah had to admit that the greatest barrier to Syrian 1.5mio refugees in Lebanon is they are scared of Assad.
Hezbollah and Assad propaganda were lying for the past 4 years.

Thumb gigahabib 2 days

Wow, I'm impressed, you know what about ten million Syrians are all thinking!

Missing opinion1 2 days

No that was my guess.
But what I know - and everybody knows is - Hezbollah and Assad lying about the 87% Syrians refugees in Lebanon voted for Assad was a lie.
Assad wants the Sunni Syrian refugees back - is a lie.

Thumb gigahabib 2 days

Assad is married to a Sunni, his government and army consists mainly of Sunnis. So no, he may not want Salafist Sunnis back, but who can blame him? Ordinary Sunnis are no problem, otherwise he would hardly have married one.

Missing opinion1 2 days

@ gigahabib
Even if you peddle & repeat your lies a 100 times it will remain a lie.
Assad Army used to consist of mainly Sunnis before the Syrian civil war started. But No Longer.
Two third of Assad Army - Defected and Deserted - and vast majority of them were Sunnis.
What is left of Assad Army is just a third of the Syrian Army - An Overwhelmingly Alawite Army, with few proportion of Christians Druze, Sunnis and Kurds.
If the Sunni in Assad Army - 2 thirds of Assad Army - hadn't Defected or Deserted - Assad wouldn't have needed 10,000 Hezbollah, 10,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards, 10,000 Iranian Basij, 10,000 Iraqis Shias, 10,000 Afghani & Pakistani Shiaa, 40,000 Syrian Alawite Shabiha, and 11,000 Russian troops to shore him up.

Thumb gigahabib 2 days

Even western sources state most of the Syrian army is Sunni. Face it, most Sunnis don't want crazy Wahhabists to rule them.

Missing 1opinion 2 days

@gigahab
Western sources state that BEFORE the War Syrian Army was mostly Sunni. But Nowadays they all point to the remainder of the Syrian Army under Bashar to be consisting mainly of Alawites.
Face it gigahabib you are a Bad liar.
Or maybe you think that if some of your Hezbos filmed during a Syrian propaganda video trying so hard to pass as Sunni Syrian soldiers but unable to drop their Lebanese dialect and fail to speak in Syrian dialect would fool anybody...pathetic.

Missing 1opinion 2 days

@gigahab
Is that the majority Sunni Syrian Army you were alluding to- Hezbos passing themselves as Syrian Army soldiers - pathetic.
https://youtu.be/PwNgbq3sKWM

Thumb gigahabib 2 days

Yeah, and Farouk al Sharaa is in house arrest, right? Or was he killed? Which Syrian opposition lie is the right one?

Missing 1opinion 2 days

You think anybody would believe your Assad Hezbollah lies and stories - like Ghazi Kenaan committed suicide - yeah right.

Missing 1opinion 2 days

@gigaLiar.
Still denying North Korea Kim murder ya Farce. ولك روح زحط واحد وصخ وكذاب ن
http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/225607-family-neighbors-shocked-at-indonesia-link-to-kim-murder