Assad says Britain's Syria strikes 'illegal', will only fuel terror
07 December 2015, 08:17
London - Britain's bombing campaign against Islamic State
(ISIS) extremists in Syria is "illegal" and will only cause
"terrorism" to spread, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview
published on Sunday.
"It will be harmful and illegal and it will support
terrorism as happened after the coalition started its operation a year or so [ago],"
he told The Sunday Times after British MPs voted on December 2 to join the
US-led bombing campaign over Syria.
Terror, he said, was like a cancer which needed to be
tackled with a "comprehensive" strategy which would involve working
with troops on the ground.
"You cannot cut out part of the cancer. You have to
extract it. This kind of operation is like cutting out part of the cancer. That
will make it spread in the body faster.
"You cannot defeat [ISIS] through air strikes alone.
You cannot defeat them without co-operation with forces on the ground. You
cannot defeat them if you do not have buy-in from the general public and the
government," he said.
"They are going to fail again."
Britain began its bombing campaign early on Thursday,
hitting an oil field held by ISIS just hours after a decisive parliamentary
vote authorised air strikes.
Momentum to join the air campaign grew after ISIS
militants claimed a deadly series of attacks on Paris last month which killed
130 people and wounded more than 350.
In arguing in favour of the strikes, Prime Minister David
Cameron's claimed there were 70 000 moderate Syrian forces on the ground who
could help secure territory cleared by air strikes, prompting ridicule from
Assad, who denounced it as "classical farce".
"Where are the 70 000 moderates he is talking about?
There is no 70 000. There is no 7 000," he said.
In late September, Russia began its own bombing campaign
in Syria in support of Assad over a year after a US-led coalition began its
strikes targeting the ISIS group.
Russia is coordinating its air strikes with Damascus,
unlike the US-led coalition, whose action has been criticised by Assad and his
government as ineffectual. Assad said the Russians had entered the conflict in
a "legal way" - with Syria's permission.
While the western bombing campaign has fuelled extremism,
Assad believes that two months of Russian air strikes with ground support from
the Syrian army has actually damaged the Islamists' capabilities.
More than 250 000 people have been killed since the
Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against Assad's regime.