Syrian war could escalate into World War Three, Assad warns, saying a direct conflict between Russia and the US could spiral out of control
- Bashar al-Assad warned that the war had already escalated beyond a ‘Cold War’
- He argued that western backing had increased the likelihood of a world war
- The President also claimed videos of the chemical attack on Douma were faked
- Assad was speaking in an exclusive interview with Greek newspaper Kathimerini
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he fears the country’s civil war could erupt into a full-scale global conflict.
He argued that US intervention to help the rebels, as well as the Russian backing of government forces, could lead to direct conflict between the superpowers.
President Assad warned the conflict had already gone beyond a ‘Cold War’ but said he hoped it would not escalate any further.
‘I hope we don’t see any direct conflict between these superpowers, because this is where things are going to be out of control for the rest of the world,’ Assad said in the interview with Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
‘It’s something more than a cold war, but less than a full-blown war.’
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President Assad speaking to a reporter from Greek newspaper Kathimerini for the interview
In the interview, Assad argued that western intervention in Syria was doing nothing to lessen the threat of a world war
The President also took the opportunity to praise his Russian backers – saying that if a world war was avoided it would be ‘because of the wisdom of the Russians’ rather than President Trump.
‘Since Trump’s campaign, the main agenda was against Russia, create a conflict with Russia, humiliate Russia, undermine Russia, and so on,’ he added.
‘Fortunately, you have a wise leadership in Russia, and they know that the agenda of the deep state in the United States is to create a conflict.’
Since Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, there have been a number of skirmishes between rival Middle Eastern forces using Syria as a battleground.
Syrian-allied Iranian militants stationed in the country fired around 20 missiles across the border towards Israel’s Golan Heights on Thursday.
And US-backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a strike on ‘almost all’ of Iran’s military bases in Syria.
Assad warned that the Western backing of Syrian factions has led to a complication of the civil war which could lead to the conflict spilling over into neighbouring countries and dragging in more and more nations.
‘The Turkish, French, whoever, they are all enemies; as long as they came to Syria illegally, they are our enemies,’ Assad added.
‘Forget about the different factions and who is going to finance those factions; at the end of the day, they work for one agenda, and those different players obey one master: the American master.’
The Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011, has claimed nearly 500,000 lives since it began
Assad used the opportunity to praise his Russian allies, saying the resolve of President Putin (right) would hopefully quell the possibility of the war’s escalation
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the settlement of Katzrin in the Golan Heights on Friday amid missile strikes between Iran and Israel
On the question of chemical weapons, Assad said his country complied with UN resolutions and handed over its stockpiles to international authorities.
‘We don’t have a chemical arsenal since we gave it up in 2013,’ said Assad. ‘The (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) made investigations about this, and it’s clear that we don’t have them.’
Last month, at least 49 people were killed and dozens more injured in an alleged chemical weapons attack. The US and other Western countries accused the Syrian regime of staging the assault.
But Assad refused to accept responsibility for the attack in rebel-held Douma, saying: ‘It’s a farce, it’s a play. It’s a very primitive play just to attack the Syrian army.’
Iran DENIES firing rockets at Israel and describes the claims as ‘freely invented and baseless’
Iran has denied firing rockets at Israel – claiming the allegations were invented by Israeli politicians to justify attacks on Syria.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi described claims the Revolutionary Guard fired around 20 missiles at Israeli targets in the Golan heights as ‘freely invented and baseless’.
Qasemi also struck out at western nations for not condemning the ferocious Israeli retaliation against the Iranian military – which saw several key targets within Syria blasted by powerful missile strikes.
‘Their silence only gives the Zionist regime (Israel) the green light for further aggressions that serve only to make the region more insecure and unstable,’ he said.
Syrian air defence systems firing to protect Damascus from the alleged Israeli strike
The defense committee of Iran’s parliament also said Iranian forces had nothing to do with the attacks on Israeli positions.
‘This is another lie from the Zionist regime for propaganda purposes, ‘ said committee spokesman Mohammad Nabandegani.
He also denied that Iran had any military forces in Syria at all.
Israel announced early on Thursday that its forces had hit ‘almost all’ Iranian infrastructure sites in Syria during airstrikes carried out in retaliation for Iran’s firing of 20 rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Netanyahu said that Iran had ‘crossed a red line’ with the rocket attacks.
The attacks were some of the worst direct violence between arch rivals Israel and Iran in years and have raised fears of a wider conflict in the region.
Israel has long expressed concern that Iran could establish a military presence in Syria amid the instability caused by Syria’s long-running civil war.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed fears of further escalation in a tweet in which he called for an end to ‘all hostile acts and any provocative actions.’
Five hundred people poisoned in Syrian gas attack, WHO reveals
Up to 500 people were poisoned in the Syrian gas outrage that killed 43 people including children, the World Health Organisation has revealed.
WHO demanded ‘immediate’ access to the victims in rebel-held Douma as it revealed the total number of people who reported to hospital showing ‘signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals’.
The atrocity, blamed on Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s forces, has sparked a global outcry with the US and its allies considering taking military action in response.
Volunteers give aid to children at a hospital following the chemical attack in Douma
While the WHO statement did not confirm outright that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, it said more than 70 people sheltering in basements have died with 43 of those deaths related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals.
‘We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma’ where Saturday’s attack took place, said Peter Salama, the UN agency’s chief of emergency response.
‘WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts, and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,’ he added.
Citing information previously released by local health organizations, WHO said that ‘an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals’.
Up to 500 people were poisoned in the Syrian gas attack that killed 43 people including children, the World Health Organisation has revealed
‘There were signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to central nervous systems of those exposed,’ the statement added.
The United States, Britain and France have argued the incident bears all the hallmarks of a strike ordered by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Assad has been blamed for previous attacks by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN-backed war crimes investigators.
WHO has delivered medicine capable of treating certain types of chemical agents to clinics through a series of humanitarian convoys deployed across the country in recent years.
UN officials have also accused Assad’s troops of at times removing those treatments from humanitarian vehicles.
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