Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cautioned in a rare TV interview that the West will pay for allegedly helping Al Qaeda extremists in the country’s bloody two-year conflict.
Assad also vowed that the government will not be defeated. The statement was made on Wednesday to the country’s Al Ikhbariya news channel. The president declared:
“The West has paid heavily for funding Al-Qaeda in its early stages. Today it is doing the same in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price in the heart of Europe and the United States.”
Assad added that “from the first day, what is happening in Syria is dictated from abroad.” The Assad regime has often blamed foreign terrorists for the uprising that began as peaceful protests seeking for his resignation.
The protests turned violent after thousands were injured and arrested by the police and military. Since then, Assad’s government has worked to quell the rebellion, but has so far failed to do so.
Assad has also rarely appeared in public since the fighting broke out. While the rebel group began as resistance fighters within Syria, extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra — an al Qaeda affiliate — have gained ground in the country. The group has since emerged as the most effective force among the mass of rebel units fighting to topple the government.
While the United States has designated the Jabhat al-Nusra group a terrorist organization, the country announced it would send $60 million in non-lethal assistance for Syrian rebels. The assistance includes meals and medical supplies for the armed opposition.
Along with issuing a warning to the West, President Bashar al-Assad also vowed not to surrender, saying that the defeat of his government would mean Syria’s downfall. He explained, “The truth is there is a war and I repeat: no to surrender, no to submission. There is no option but victory. Otherwise it will be the end of Syria, and I don’t think that the Syrian people will accept such an option.”
The Syrian conflict hit the two-year mark last month. So far, casualties are estimated to be at or above 70,000 people.