Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has described U.S.-backed militias in eastern Syria as “traitors”, while speaking to journalists in Damascus.
“Everyone who works under the command of any foreign country in their own country, and against their army and against their people are traitors, quite simply, whatever their name. That’s our evaluation of these groups working on behalf of the Americans,” he said.
Assad also said that France supported “terrorism” in Syria. “Their hands are plunged in the blood of Syrians since the very first days,” he added.
A U.S.-led international coalition against Islamic State has given military support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias that now controls nearly a quarter of Syria.
The SDF said Assad’s comments were no surprise, accusing his government of sowing strife and sectarianism. “We assert once again that we will go forward without hesitation in chasing terrorism,” it said in a statement.
In a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in Damascus on Monday, Assad welcomed a United Nations role in Syrian elections as long as it was linked with Syria‘s sovereignty, his office cited him as saying. Assad has repeatedly vowed to take back all of Syria.
Rogozin was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying after the meeting with Assad that Russia would be the only country to take part in rebuilding Syrian energy facilities.