Syrian President Bashar Assad welcomes US troops joining fight on terrorists

Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus on Friday, labelled all armed opposition to his rule — including the U.S.-backed rebels — as “terrorists.” (SANA / VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview released on Friday that the United States is welcome to join the battle against “terrorists” in Syria — as long as it is in cooperation with his government and respects the country’s sovereignty, AP reported.

Speaking with Yahoo News, Assad said he has not had any communication — direct or indirect — with President Donald Trump or any official form the new U.S. administration.

But the Syrian leader appeared to make a gesture to the new U.S. president in the interview, saying he welcomes Trump’s declaration that he will make it a priority to fight terrorism — a goal Assad said he also shares, AP added.

According to the report, however, Assad’s government has labelled all armed opposition to his rule — including the U.S.-backed rebels — as “terrorists.”

“We agree about this priority,” Assad said of Trump. “That’s our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism.”

Assad also told Yahoo News that his country would welcome U.S. “participation” in the fight against terrorism but it has to be in cooperation with the Syrian government.

“If you want to start genuinely, as United States … it must be through the Syrian government,” Assad said. “We are here, we are the Syrians, we own this country as Syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us.”

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