Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says all US-backed Kurdish armed militants are “traitors” to the Syrian nation, ramping up the rhetoric particularly against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are mainly active in northeastern areas of the Arab country through receiving vital substantial air and armament support from Washington.
The Syrian leader made the remarks in a meeting with a high-profile official and economic delegation from Russia, led by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday, Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported.
“When we talk about those referred to as 'the Kurds', they are in fact not just Kurds. All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command... are traitors” regardless of their names, Assad said.
The YPG is the main part of a larger coalition of fighters — the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — which was engaged in operations aimed at liberating Raqqah, the former de facto capital of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the war-torn country. Washington considers the SDF, which also includes Arab militants, as its main proxy force fighting on the ground in Syria.
Damascus regards the Kurdish militia coalition as an illegitimate foreign force operating on the Syrian soil, just as is the case with the so-called US-led military coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against purported Daesh targets since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
In contrast, Russian jets have been conducting air raids against Daesh targets and those of other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015. The airstrikes have helped Syrian forces advance against anti-Damascus militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.
President Assad further said Washington tried to focus the international community’s attention solely on Daesh in an attempt to distract the world’s attention from other terror groups, the most prominent of them being the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, which was formerly known as al-Nusra Front. He noted that Takfiri terrorists were still wreaking havoc in Syria due to the support they received from the West.
The Syrian leader also touched upon the issue of Syria’s next year presidential election, saying that he would welcome any United Nations role in the Syrian vote as long as it was linked with the country's sovereignty.
He also called Russia a friendly country to the Syrian nation, saying Moscow adopted an honorable stance towards Syria and its people during the past six years of fighting against brutal militancy inside the Arab country. Assad also noted that it was natural for Russia to be an important partner in the process of reconstruction of Syria in various sectors.
Rogozin, for his part, underlined the considerable progress in Damascus-Moscow economic cooperation and the efforts made by a Syrian-Russian joint committee for expanding this cooperation further to benefit the two countries. The Russian official said that the joint initiative would also include exploitation of a Syrian phosphate deposit.
Rogozin promised that his respective country would be fully prepared to help Syria rebuild its energy facilities.
The Russian delegation included deputy ministers of foreign affairs, defense, economic development, energy, transport, industry, and trade, in addition to the Russian envoy in Damascus and directors of major Russian companies.
The meeting was also attended by Syrian deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, along with the Syrian ministers of finance, petroleum, electricity, and transport.
Assad: France standard bearer for supporting terrorism in Syria
In an interview following his meeting with the Russian delegation, Assad took France to task for supporting terrorist groups that have been wreaking havoc in Syria since 2011, noting that Paris was in no position to talk about peace in the country.
"France has been the standard bearer of support for terrorism in Syria since the early days of the conflict," he said, adding, "It is in no position to evaluate a peace conference."
"Whoever backs terrorism has no right to talk about peace or to interfere in Syrian affairs," the Syrian president emphasized.
Assad remarks came after Paris accused his government on Friday of obstructing peace talks.