12/09/2016, 14.06
SYRIA
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An interview with Assad: Yes to inter-Syrian dialogue, no to terrorism and foreign interference

The Syrian president distinguishes between the opposition forces in the country. Not all are collaborators and talks are not possible with those who are "serving foreign agendas". He attacks Saudi Arabia and Qatar responsible for Israeli superiority in the region. The fight against corruption and the commitment to improving the living conditions of citizens. A truce in the fighting in Aleppo.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - The Syrian army has suspended operations in the eastern sector of Aleppo, after recent military advances which wrested control of the old city from the rebels (and jihadists). The pause in the offensive, which was announced by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, aims to favor the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the battle zones.

In recent weeks, government troops have regained 75% of the territories east of Aleppo, four years in the hands of opponents of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Local sources report that a lull in clashes, although outbreaks of violence persist in some areas. Military experts from Russia (a Damascus ally) and the United States are due to meet tomorrow to discuss the battle for Syria’s second largest city. Meanwhile President Assad has given an interview in which he opens to the possibility of dialogue with sectors of the opposition who are “not collaborators" and reaches out to those who, while criticizing him, are not "serving foreign agendas”. Here is an overview of what he said.

The pro-government daily Al Watan (Fatherland) yesterday published an exclusive interview to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on its front page, in which he makes a clear difference between the various opposition factions in the country. "There are not all collaborators", said the head of state, adding "not at all opposed to the establishment of an inter-Syrian dialogue, provided it is made by and with the Syrians who are not in the service of foreign agendas and do not support terrorism. "

He further added that this round table can take place "in Damascus or anywhere else in the world, bearing in mind that no one is immune or above the law." This is a clear reference, to the opponents in Turkey, Qatar or Saudi Arabia who back them, and against which the Syrian judiciary has opened investigative files. Among the alleged crimes: crimes against humanity, terrorism and illegal trafficking in arms, drugs, archaeological finds and oil.

Bluntly, the Syrian president denounces Saudi Arabia that Qatar, which "have taken anti-Arab positions and are among the main causes of the survival of Israel and its regional superiority." Assad also revealed for the first time the story of a Russian mediation that took place a year and a half ago, to mend ties between Syria and Saudi Arabia.

A failed operation because Riyadh "wanted only one thing: that Syria would join in its opposition to Iran. And we - added the president - do not see why we should go against Iran to appease Saudi Arabia or to please their backward minds".

On the improvement of relations with Egypt, Assad said that the ties had touched a historic low "during the governments of Ikhwanji [the Muslim Brotherhood, ed] led by Morsi. However - he explained – relations never reached breaking point, and certainly no thanks to Ikhwanji, but to mediation and the will of the Egyptian military apparatus ".

Speaking about the ongoing fighting in Aleppo, the Syrian president said: "We have to be honest, the victory in Aleppo will not mean the end of the war in Syria but it is nevertheless an important step towards the end. This war will not end until we have completely eradicated terrorism. And we eradicate them all. "

"There is no choice but dialogue," said Assad, praising the efforts made so far and which have saved many lives. "And in any agreement achieved so far - he continued - our first interest has always been to liberate people held hostage by various armed groups."

Regarding the Syrian economic miracle, in which the national system holds solidly despite the war that has lasted for more than five years, the Syrian president attributes it to the "basis on which the Syrian economy has been established for decades, combined with the iron will of Syrians ... as well as external help of friendly countries including Iran and Russia".

Already talking about the next phase of reconstruction of the country, now almost entirely destroyed, President Assad stressed that "friendly nations will be the first to take advantage of reconstruction contracts and they will be the creditor countries." He then added he does not believe that "the Syrian people will ever allow companies belonging to enemy countries to derive any benefit or profit from the war they caused." However, while warning that "many countries that are now enemies will try to create joint ventures with companies from nations allied to us, in order to use them as a showcase."

Finally, Assad had harsh words for corruption and all who have benefited from the the States being committed on other fronts: "They will not escape the law," said the president, who has, however, noted that now "the state's priorities are those to combat terrorism and to ensure minimum standards of a decent life for our citizens ". (PB)

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