Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has emphasized on the continued military operations in eastern Ghouta, saying they are part of the country’s battle against terrorism.
“We will continue fighting terrorism … and the Ghouta operation is a continuation of fighting terrorism,” said Assad during remarks aired Sunday on state television.
“There is no contradiction between a truce and combat operations. The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army was made during this truce,” he added.
The Syrian president was referring to a Russian-proposed daily humanitarian ceasefire from 9 am to 2 pm local time.
“Therefore we must continue with the operation in parallel with opening the way for civilians to leave,” he added.
Western claims false
He further went on to dismiss Western claims concerning the humanitarian situation in eastern Ghouta as ridiculous false accusations. “The humanitarian situation which the West speaks of from time to time, is a very ridiculous lie, as ridiculous as the western officials who repeat it.”
Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus that is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, with Takfiri terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.
“We have not started from Ghouta; we have started since the first day in combating terrorism in every place, we have started in Aleppo, Homs, Dayr al-Zawr; the operation in Ghouta is a continuation of combating terrorism in different places,” Assad added.
The Syrian president also condemned accusations by the West over Damascus using chemical weapons, adding that such claims were only an excuse to attack the Syrian army.
“Most western officials spoke about the use of chemical weapons only to come back after some days to say we have no proof. So they are damaging their credibility, and casting doubt over these allegations, with their own words,” he stressed. “In addition, we abandoned the chemical weapon in 2013 and there is an organization concerned in inquiring this issue, and if there was any evidence, it would announce this thing, so I repeat, it is a mere blackmail which is used as a pretext to direct strikes against the Syrian army.”
Syrian to decide their destiny
Meanwhile, President Assad received on Sunday Iranian Foreign Minister’s Special Assistant for Political Affairs, Hussein Jabri Ansari, and the accompanying delegation.
During the meeting, President Assad affirmed the importance of prior and permanent coordination between Syria and friendly countries on various issues at this crucial stage, adding that that the Syrian people are the final decision-makers in any future political options related to their country and this decision will not be in the hand of anyone else.
The president pointed out that the current Turkish aggression on Afrin is a new proof of Turkey’s continuing policy towards Syria and a further proof that trusting this policy and its sponsors is not possible.
Talks during the meeting dealt with the need to develop a common ground and a clear understanding of the most important outcomes of Sochi Congress, which was agreed upon by the participants, with emphasis laid on the importance of international mediator de Mistura’ commitment to his role as a facilitator for the dialogue only.
Ansari, for his part, asserted his country’s keenness on coordination and consultation with Syria in various fields, adding that any effort exerted by Iran to support the political solution to the crisis in Syria will be in agreement with the Syrian leadership, noting that Syria and its people have special status at the people and government of Iran.