In an interview with RT, slated to be released in full on Monday, Assad contemplated the danger of supporting radical fighters of European origin who may return to their home countries.
“The most dangerous on Europe is to support the terrorists in Syria, this is the most dangerous part. So, this is hypocrisy; how can you fear those few millions, the majority of them are moderates and they have few terrorists, while you support those terrorists directly in tens of thousands at least and maybe hundreds of thousands in Syria and you don’t fear that they’re going to go back to your country,” Assad said in the interview with Afshin Rattansi.
Assad went on to criticize the United Kingdom’s seizure of a Syria-bound Iranian tanker earlier this year an act of “piracy” intended to punish the people for siding with the government and not terrorists.
“They wanted to effect the people in Syria, why? Because those people were expected to rise up against their government during different stages of the war, but they didn’t. They were supposed to be supporting the terrorists, the ‘moderate rebels,’ ‘the angels of White Helmets’, but the people didn’t, they stood with their government. So, they have to suffer, they have to pay the price. First of all, they have to learn the lesson that they should have stood with their agenda. Second, this is maybe the last ditch-attempt in order to push them to be against their government,” the Syrian leader said.
The Adrian Darya 1 tanker was detained by British Royal Marine commandos in July off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion of breaking EU sanctions. Gibraltar eventually released the vessel on August 15 after Iran promised that the ship would not go to Syria.
Assad has led Syria since the death of his father Hafez Assad in 2000. He was initially seen as a moderating and modernizing force but maintained the Baath Party line set by his father.
In 2011, widespread popular uprisings in the Arab world, known as the Arab Spring, spread to Syria but things took a turn for the worse soon after, resulting in a protracted war and what the UN has called the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st century.