Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the years-long foreign-backed war in his country has proven that everything the West does runs counter to what it claims about democracy and humanitarian principles.
Assad made the remark in an interview with Channel One Russia on Friday, saying the West attempts to “transform other countries into subordinate states” by portraying itself as an advocate of pro-democracy and pro-freedom movements.
“The war in Syria has proven that the West will not change and seeks to transform other countries into subordinate states that meet its conditions, even at the expense of the interests of the peoples,” the Syrian president said.
“Freedom is a beautiful term, but this freedom could be that of a person to kill, destroy and do everything bad, and democracy for the West is to be an agent and subservient to them.”
Assad said Western countries seek to transform smaller or weaker countries into “vassal states” to satisfy their needs even at the expense of the interests of these nations.
He said certain Western governments tried to persuade him to resign during the foreign-sponsored war but they later realized that Syria “fully understands Western policy.”
“During the war, certain Western governments tried to persuade me to resign the presidency in exchange for full immunity,” the Syrian president said, without providing any further details and naming any countries.
“They gave up on these attempts a long time ago and understood that Syria fully understands Western policy, that it no longer fools us.”
The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The Takfiri terrorist group had emerged as Washington was running out of excuses to extend its regional meddling or enlarge it in scale.
The US-led coalition sustains its illegal presence on the Arab country's soil, although Damascus and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2017.
Damascus has repeatedly urged the United Nations Security Council to end the US-led military presence in the country, saying that illegal US deployment is tantamount to occupation and aimed at plundering Syria’s natural resources.
Former US President Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil wealth.
‘Syria’s interests must be taken into account for Turkey meeting’
Elsewhere in the interview, Assad pointed to a potential meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said the interests of the Syrian people must be taken into account before any meeting with Ankara.
Assad said contacts between Syria and Turkey had started at the level of security and defense ministers, and a meeting at the level of deputy foreign ministers was under discussion.
“We can have a meeting at the level of foreign ministers, and the most important of these meetings is to achieve the interest of Syria, end the war and stop the bloodshed,” the Syrian president said.
Turkey cut off its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant and hugely deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants and terrorists, including those allegedly supported by Ankara.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted three major ground operations against United States-backed militants based in northern Syria.
The Turkish government accuses the militants, known as the People's Protection Units (YPG), of bearing ties with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group, which has been fighting a hugely-deadly separatist war against Ankara for many decades.
Syria has denounced the Turkish operation as a direct violation of its sovereignty, saying it reserved the right to respond to the incursions as it sees fit.