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Assad hits back at claims that Trump wanted to assassinate him

Bashar al-Assad is a Syrian dictator [file photo-Getty]

Date of publication: 8 October, 2020

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Bashar al-Assad responded to Trump admitting that he wanted to assassinate the Syrian dictator in 2017.

Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad broke his silence about reports that in 2017 US President Donald Trump wanted him dead in revenge for a deadly chemical attack in opposition Idlib.

In an interview with Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik, Assad claimed that Trump's wish to have him assassinated reflects US foreign policy.

"What Trump announced is a reflection of an American policy that relies on assassinations," he said.

"The assassination represents an American method of action. This is what they have always done, for decades, and everywhere, in different regions of the world, so it is not a new thing," he added.

Assad, who is considered responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, also claimed his life is at constant threat by the US and that Syrians should anticipate his assassination at any moment.

"You should always remember that this type of plan always exists for various reasons, and we have to expect this in our situation in Syria, with this conflict with the Americans."

The Syrian regime has itself been accused of assassinating pro-democracy activists in Syria and, in the past, critical politicians and journalists in Lebanon.

Last month, Trump told Fox News that he supported plans being drawn up to kill Assad in response to the killing of around 100 civilians in a sarin attack on Idlib's Khan Sheikhoun.

"I would've rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn't want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general. And I let him go," Trump told Fox & Friends.

"Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff."

Trump said he did not regret leaving Assad to live, despite the regime being accused of carrying out another deadly chemical attack a year later.

The Syrian regime is held responsible by independent monitors of numerous gas attacks in Syria - which have killed thousands of civilians - including the use of the deadly nerve agent sarin.

He has also more frequently used conventional weaponry on Syrian towns and cities, including barrel and incendiary bombs.

The Syrian regime is also accused of killing more than 100,000 prisoners in detention.

Russia and Israel

Also in the interview, Assad claimed Damascus would consider normalising relations with Israel, if it withdrew its forces from the occupied Golan Heights - a long-time demand of Syria.

Israel began its occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967 and officially annexed it in 1981, although this move was rejected by most countries in the world.

Both Bashar and Hafez have engaged in talks with Israel on a land for peace initiative, which would involve the Golan.

It follows normalisation agreements between Israel and Gulf states the UAE and Bahrain.

Assad urged that Russian military presence is vital in Syria for the backing of his regime. When asked, he said he does not see Moscow's withdrawing from Syria in the foreseeable future.

Since peaceful pro-democracy and reform protests broke out in Syria in 2011, Assad has referred to all opponents to his rule - both armed and un-armed - as terrorists.

"After five years of this cooperation between the Syrian and the Russian armies in a vicious war, I think heroism is becoming a collective act," Assad said.

"What I'm going to tell my grandchildren someday is not only about this heroism but I'm also going to talk about the common values that we have in both our armies that made us brothers during this war, these noble values, faithful to their causes, defending civilians, and defending the innocent."

Russia has been accused of committing numerous crimes against humanity in Syria, where Moscow is providing military and political assistance to Assad.

Russia entered the Syrian war on 30 September 2015, providing air support, mercenaries, air defences, training and military advice which have been critical to the regime's re-capture of most of Syria's urban centres. 

Russian airstrikes have led to the deaths of injuries of thousands of Syrian civilians, according to monitor Airwars, and accused of targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and civil defence teams.

Assad recently admitted that Russia's military presence in the country provides a useful backup to his brutal regime that has committed massacres, including the use of chemical weapons, against Syrian civilians.

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