Question 1: Welcome Mr. President, and thank you for speaking to Wion. I’d like to begin by asking you about the situation obtaining in Syria today. Now, by all accounts, Mr. President, it is the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time, and hundreds of thousands of people, including innocent people, have been killed in this war, in this conflict. So, how is this campaign of yours against terrorist groups such as the Islamic State progressing?

President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria; and you come at a time when the situation has improved dramatically, let’s say, because the terrorist groups, mainly ISIS and al-Nusra and like-minded groups in Syria who are Wahhabi terrorist extremist groups, are retreating, or let’s say the area under their control has been shrinking. So, the situation on the ground, from a military point of view, is much better than before. But this is not the whole picture; it’s not only about military conflict, it’s about different things, about the ideology that they try to spread in our region, which is the most dangerous challenge that we may face in the near and long term.

Second, it’s about the support that those terrorist groups have been gaining from regional countries like Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and European and Western countries like the United States, France, and UK, mainly, which mark a new era in the world where you can use terrorism, any kind of terrorism, to implement a political agenda. This is something more dangerous than any other danger that we may face in our modern world.

Question 2: Mr. President, you mentioned the names of some terrorist groups, you mentioned the names of some countries including Saudi Arabia and other countries, but if I were to ask you, Mr. President, who or what do you blame for the crisis in Syria today?

President Assad: If I want to be objective, we always say that if you don’t have your own, let’s say, defects in your society, in your country, the external factor would be minimal. So, we always talk about our mistakes or our loopholes or defects, but at the end, we didn’t bring the terrorists, we didn’t support the terrorists, we didn’t support this ideology. Mainly, who started this conflict was Qatar under the supervision and the endorsement of the Western countries, mainly France and UK, at the very beginning, but when you talk about France, and UK, they wouldn’t do something without the permission of the United States. We all know that the real mentor is the United States, but they allow others to play different roles. So, if you want to blame about who supported the terrorists and who started this blood-letting and blood-shedding in Syria, it was the West and Qatar, and later Saudi Arabia, one year later joined the same effort, and of course Turkey, we wouldn’t forget Turkey which was the main player with the terrorists in Syria from the very, very beginning.

Question 3: Mr. President, you spoke about how to end this blood-letting. Would you be open for a negotiated political settlement going forward, maybe underwritten by Russia or some other members of the UN Security Council?

President Assad: Of course, we have already joined these efforts since Geneva in 2014, something like this, a few years ago, it’s not only about joining that effort; you need a real effort, you need a methodical effort that could produce something in reality that could be fruitful. Till this moment, we haven’t had any real political initiative that could produce something, although Astana has achieved, let’s say, partial results, through the recent de-escalation areas in Syria, which was positive in that regard, but you cannot call it a political solution till this moment. A political solution is when you have all the different aspects of the problem being tackled at the same time. So, we took the initiative in dealing directly with the terrorists in some areas in order to make reconciliation, where they can give up their armaments and we can give them amnesty, and that has worked in a very proper and good way in Syria.

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President Assad's  Belarus ONT Channel Interview, May 11, 2017.

Question 1: Good day, Mr. President, and thank you for agreeing to give this interview to the Belarus television. We meet you on a special day, the day the advanced world is celebrating the Great Victory.

You no doubt know that the greatest part of this victory was achieved by the Soviet people, by the people who live in the republics of the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, we used to believe that the 20th century was the bloodiest, but we now see in the 21st century a new danger to humanity in the form of terrorism. Your country, Syria, is fighting terrorism for the seventh year on its own. It is fighting this horrible evil. In your opinion, how much power do your people have? And when will we be able to celebrate Victory Day the Syrian way?

President Assad: The fundamental power is the patriotic power. It is the moral power derived from a state of patriotism, from the patriotic spirit and the patriotic conscience that every citizen has. This is the natural thing in most countries of the world, and it is the most important element which feeds the state of resilience among a population living under very difficult circumstances, not only from a security and military perspective, but also in terms of livelihoods and living conditions in general, in the sense that all services have been affected and all individuals in Syria have been affected.

But when we talk about this danger being a new one, i.e. the danger of terrorism, what’s more important is to examine the mentality which underlies terrorism. What is the mentality which was behind Nazism, which was defeated by the Soviet people? The Belarus people were an essential component of the nations which fought and sacrificed themselves in that war.

The background is the same and the war is the same. Why did Nazism appear? What did it want? It wanted to dominate the world, to cancel the others out. The war fought today by our people is not only against the terrorists, but also against those who sponsor terrorism. Terrorism is only an instrument used by those Western states which want to apply the same Nazi mentality which aims at dominating everyone else and turning states and nations into slaves, turning them into satellites and controlling everything they have, materially and morally.

That’s why terrorism is only one instrument among others and only one outcome of that mentality. The war fought by your people then is the same war our people are fighting today. The difference lies in the titles and the instruments, while the content is the same.

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Following is the full text of the interview;

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for receiving us.

President Assad: I welcome you and teleSUR TV in Syria. You are welcome.

Question 1: Let’s start directly with the latest developments. Russia has warned that there might be other alleged chemical attacks. What are the precautionary measures that Syria has taken in order to prevent that?

President Assad:  First of all, terrorists have used chemical materials more than once in the past several years and in more than one region throughout Syria. We have asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send specialized missions to investigate what happened. And every time, the United States obstructed these investigations or prevented sending such missions in order to carry out such investigations. This is what happened last week when we called for investigations over the alleged use of chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The United States and its allies prevented OPCW from taking that decision. As far as we are concerned, we still insist on an investigation, and we and our Russian and Iranian allies are trying to persuade OPCW to send a team to investigate what happened, because if it doesn’t, the United States might repeat the same charade by fabricating the use of false chemical weapons in another place in Syria in order to justify military intervention in support of the terrorists. On the other hand, we continue to fight the terrorists, because we know that the objective of all these American and Western allegations concerning chemical weapons is to support terrorists in Syria. That’s why we will continue to fight these terrorists.

Question 2: But the Pentagon says that Syria has chemical weapons. Is it true that Syria has kept one percent of the weapons it has committed itself to hand over and destroy four years ago?

President Assad: You and I remember well what happened in 2003, when Colin Powell showed the world in the United Nations what he claimed to be the evidence which proves that President Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, nuclear, and other weapons. However, when the American forces invaded Iraq, it was proven that all he said was a lie. Powell himself admitted that the American intelligence agencies deceived him with that false evidence. That wasn’t the first nor will it be the last time. This means that if you want to be a politician in the United States, you have to be a genuine liar. This is what characterizes American politicians: they lie on a daily basis, and say something and do something different. That’s why we shouldn’t believe what the Pentagon, or any other American institution says, because they say things which serve their policies, not things which reflect reality and the facts on the ground.

Question 3: What is the objective behind Syria’s desire to acquire the latest generation of anti-missile systems from Russia?

President Assad: We are already in a state of war with Israel; and Israel has been committing aggressions on the Arab states surrounding it since its creation in 1948. So, it’s natural that we should have such systems. However, the terrorists, acting on Israeli, American, Turkish, Qatari, and Saudi instructions have destroyed some of these systems. And it is natural for us to negotiate with the Russians now with a view to strengthening these systems, whether to face any Israeli threats from the air or the threats of American missiles. That has become a real possibility after the recent American aggression on al-Shairat airbase in Syria.

Question 4: What is the role that Israel, in particular, has played in this war against Syria? We know that Israeli attacks against the positions of the Syrian Arab Army have continued in recent weeks.

President Assad: It is playing this role in different forms; first, by direct aggression, particularly by using warplanes, artillery, or missiles against Syrian Army positions. Second, it is supporting terrorists in two ways: first by providing direct support in the form of weapons, and second by providing logistic support, i.e. allowing them to conduct military exercises in the areas it controls. It also provides them with medical assistance in its hospitals. These are not mere claims or assumptions. They are facts, verified and published on the internet which you can easily access as proven evidence of the Israeli role in support of the terrorists in Syria.

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Question 1: Thank you, Mr. President, for giving an opportunity for this interview, and I will start with the recent tragic event in Aleppo, where the majority of those killed and wounded were children. Who do you think organized this crime, and on what purpose?

President Assad:  A few months ago, the same agreement was about to be implemented, but as you know, you’re talking about different factions, all of them are linked to Al Qaeda or al-Nusra Front, and one of those factions attacked the buses that wanted to transport the same civilians outside of al-Foua’a and Kefraya beside Aleppo, and they attacked those buses and they burned them, and it was shown on the internet, where they said “we won’t allow this reconciliation to happen, we’re going to kill every civilian that wants to use the buses,” and that’s what happened. When we thought that everything is ready to implement that reconciliation, they did what they announced, and they are al-Nusra Front, they didn’t hide themselves from the very beginning, and I think everybody agrees that this is al-Nusra.

Question 2: Any specific group or al-Nusra itself?

President Assad: No, because when you talk about al-Nusra, it’s their ideology, so different names – and as you know al-Nusra itself changed its name – so different names doesn’t mean changing the ideology or the behavior or the course of killing. So, it doesn’t matter what’s the name.

Question 3: And how many people have died since the beginning of the war, at this point?

President Assad:  Actually, we can talk only about official numbers. It’s tens of thousands, not like what you hear in the media about hundreds of thousands. Of course, we can talk about thousands of missing people that we don’t know anything about their fate. This is the official number. But in the West, of course they add altogether the number of the terrorists, and a large amount of the terrorists of course they’re not registered at the state as killed or dead, and the same thing about the foreigners who came to Syria in tens or maybe hundreds of thousands to fight. So, the numbers that we’ve been hearing in the Western media during the last six years were not precise, it’s only to inflate the number just to show how horrible the situation, to use it as humanitarian pretext to intervene in Syria. So, as a state, we only talk about tens of thousands of victims till this moment.

Question 4: So, you’re not agreeing with the number that the United Nations give?

President Assad: No, because the United Nations doesn’t have any means to calculate the numbers, and actually no-one has, as I said, because you’re talking about different factions; foreigners, Syrians and terrorists and so on, so it’s complicated to tell. The only thing that we have are the official records. Of course, it must be higher than the official record, but we cannot just estimate and give any number.

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President Assad's AFP Interview, April 13, 2017 

Following is the full text of the interview;

Question 1: Mr. President, first I want to thank you very much to receive me for an interview. Mr. President, did you give an order to strike Khan Sheikhoun with chemical weapons last Tuesday?

President Assad: Actually, no-one has investigated what happened that day in Khan Sheikhoun till the moment. As you know, Khan Sheikhoun is under the control of al-Nusra Front, which is a branch of Al Qaeda, so the only information the world have had till this moment is published by Al Qaeda branch. No-one has any other information. We don’t know if the whole pictures or videos that we’ve been seeing are true or fabricated. That’s why we asked for investigation to what happened in Khan Sheikhoun. This is first.

Second, Al Qaeda sources said that the attack happened at 6, 6:30 in the morning, while the Syrian attack in the same area was around noon, between 11:30 to 12. So, they’re talking about two different stories or events. So, there was no order to make any attack, we don’t have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago. Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.

Question 2: So what happened this day?

President Assad: As I said, the only source is Al Qaeda, we cannot take it seriously. But our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack, It wasn’t an attack because of what happened in khan Sheikhoun. It’s one event, its stage one is the play that we saw on the social networking and on TVs, and the propaganda, and the stage two is the military attack. That’s what we believe is happening because it’s only few days – two days, 48 hours – between the play and the attacks, and no investigations, no concrete evidence about anything, the only thing were allegations and propaganda, and then strike.

Question 3: So, who according to you is responsible about this alleged chemical attack?

President Assad:  The allegation itself was by Al Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, so we don’t have to investigate who, they announced it, it’s under their control, no-one else. About the attack, as I said, it’s not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake, like the White Helmets for example, they are Al Qaeda, they are al-Nusra Front who shaved their beards, wore white hats, and appeared as humanitarian heroes, which is not the case. The same people were killing Syrian soldiers, and you have the proof on the internet anyway. So, the same thing for that chemical attack, we don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun? Were they dead at all? Who committed the attack if there was an attack? What’s the material? You have no information at all, nothing at all, no-one investigated.

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