Assad: Syria's in the Loop on Anti-ISIS Airstrikes

But there's no dialogue with the US, Syrian president says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2015 7:32 AM CST
In this image taken from TV, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview in Tehran, Iran, June 28, 2012.   (AP Photo/IRIB TV via APTN)

(Newser) – Bashar al-Assad says his government is receiving messages from the US-led coalition about airstrikes against ISIS taking place in his country. In a BBC interview today, the Syrian president admits that there hasn't been direct cooperation, and the messages are coming from third parties—including Iraq—not the US itself. "Sometimes they convey a message, a general message, but there's nothing tactical," Assad told BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. "There is no dialogue. There's, let's say, information, but not dialogue." And although Assad and the US coalition share the same goal in ridding Syria of ISIS—and despite the US plan to train rebels to take down the militant Islamists in Syria—Assad said he has no inclination to join forces with the US anytime soon.

"We cannot be in an alliance with countries which support terrorism," he says. "They easily trample over international law ... so they don't talk to us, we don't talk to them." Assad also insisted Syria isn't using barrel bombs—deadly containers filled with shrapnel and explosives that are dropped from high-altitude aircraft—on civilian-populated sites, an allegation he dismissed as a "childish story." Syria's use of the tactic is "well-documented," notes the BBC, and decried by human rights groups and Syrian rebels, per Reuters. "[The army uses] bullets, missiles, and bombs," Assad told the BBC. "I haven't heard of … using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots. There are no indiscriminate weapons. You cannot have war without casualties." He added, however, that most civilians flee targeted regions once rebels take over. The White House didn't immediately comment, per USA Today.

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