Syrian President Bashir-al-Assad spoke to Russian media outlets, blaming the refugee crisis on the United States and its Western allies.
Assad asserted that cause of the crisis was on western powers, as Syrian refugees risk their lives trying to reach mainland Europe.
“Actually, it’s like the West now is crying for the refugees with one eye and aiming at them with a machinegun with the second one,” Assad tols a panel of Russian journalists, “because actually those refugees left Syria because of the terrorism, mainly because of the terrorists and because of the killing, and second because of the results of terrorism.”
The Syrian civil war has raged on since 2011, since then an estimated 9 million refugees have fled the country in a war that has seen a death toll that has reached over 200,000. As the United States has bombed ISIS, Assad maintains that his army is the only one fighting the terrorist group on the ground.
Additionally, Assad also discussed his relationship with Russia an Iran, two nations that have backed the dictator as Western and regional powers called for him to step down. Russian along with Iran have backed Assad’s regime among the civil war.
“Iran supports Syria and the Syrian people. It stands with the Syrian state politically, economically and militarily,” Assad said. “It sends us military equipment, and of course there is an exchange of military experts between Syria and Iran. This has always been the case, and it is natural for this cooperation to grow between the two countries in a state of war.”
In the interview, Assad fired back at Western leaders who called for the dictator to resign among reports of repeated human rights violations that include the indiscriminate targeting of civilians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs.
“At the same time, countries like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Western countries which provide cover for terrorism like France, the United States, or others, cannot fight terrorism,” Assad said. “You cannot be with and against terrorism at the same time.”
While President Obama has previously sent aid to Syrian rebels, the U.S. has backed off and now is pursuing airstrikes against ISIS, who are fighting the Assad regime. Tuesday, Australian confirmed that it would commence a bombing campaign against ISIS.