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Syria’s Assad blasts Turkey as 'only lifeline' of Daesh

This December 11, 2015 photo released by Syria’s official SANA agency shows President Bashar al-Assad speaking to journalists from Spain’s EFE news agency in the capital, Damascus.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Turkey serves as the “only lifeline” for Daesh terrorists, censuring Ankara for its engagement in illegal oil transactions with the Takfiri group.

“...the only lifeline for ISIS (Daesh) is Turkey. Those trucks moving the oil from Syria to Turkey, and Turkey selling this cheap oil to the rest of the world,” said Assad in an interview with the Spanish EFE news agency, which was published on Friday.

The Syrian president blasted Turkey for its repeated denial of oil business with Daesh, saying, “Most of the oil in Syria is in the northern part of Syria. If they want to export it to Iraq, that’s impossible, because every party in Iraq is fighting ISIS. In Syria, it’s the same. In Lebanon, it’s very far. Jordan in the south is very far.”

“I don’t think anyone has any doubt about this indubitable reality,” Assad said, adding that a series of pictures and videos released by Russia last week also confirm the movement of oil tankers from Daesh-controlled areas in Syria toward Turkey.

The photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry show routes of oil smuggling from Syria and Iraq to Turkey. 

Russia has on several occasions accused Turkey of buying illegal oil from Daesh. Russian military planes, which are used for an aerial campaign against terrorist groups in Syria, have repeatedly targeted trucks used by Daesh to smuggle oil.

Turkey has rejected oil trade with Daesh, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that he will step down if the accusation is proven to be true.

Assad further lashed out at Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for providing “direct support” to Daesh, saying such terror groups could have never expanded their terror campaign in Syria if it were not for the backing of the three states.

Commenting on the ongoing multi-national efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis, Assad said meetings such as the two recently held in the Austrian capital of Vienna would only be successful if terrorists are distinguished from the real opposition in Syria.

Two conferences were held on the Syria crisis in October and November in Vienna. The UN has said a third round is likely to be held in New York on December 18.

However, the parties to the talks remain at loggerheads over a number of issues, including the lists of the Syrian opposition and the groups that should be designated as terrorists.

Syria only recognizes real, genuine opposition

Assad also commented on the recent meeting in Saudi Arabia between the Syria militant and so-called opposition groups with the purpose of forming a united front in talks with the Syrian government. He said Damascus is in principle ready to engage in talks with the opponents, but such talks should involve “the real, patriotic, national opposition that has grassroots in Syria,” and not those related to any other state or regime in the world.

Assad said his government would not negotiate with terrorists. "So far, we’ve been seeing that some countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and some Western countries wanted the terrorist groups to join these negotiations. They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don’t think anyone would accept in any country."

He said Syria has already been in talks with some armed groups but "not organizations," with the aim of reaching a situation where the militants would “give up their armaments and either join the government or go back to their normal life, having amnesty from the government.”

Assad said that method would be the only way to deal with the militants in Syria.

The crisis in Syria, which began in March 2011, has so far claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s population within or beyond its borders.

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