This measure would solidify the fact that the area is beyond the control of the Syrian state and the country would remain divided, said Assad, according to the news agency dpa. The response was broadcast on Thursday evening on Syrian state television.
By contrast, Assad praised Russia’s agreement with Turkey. “It is a positive step.” Russia has thereby stopped Turkey, barred the road for the US and prevented the internationalization of the conflict. The damage would be thus reduced and the way paved, “hopefully in the near future to free this area”.
About three weeks ago, Turkey invaded northern Syria to oust the YPG Kurdish spies it regards as a terrorist organisation. Previously, the US had begun with the withdrawal of their troops from the area.
The US has been allied with the Kurdish militia. Russia and Turkey have now agreed to jointly control northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to settle one to two million Syrian refugees from Turkey there.
Assad also threatened Erdogan: “If he does not go after we’ve exhausted all sorts of policies, then there will be no choice but war, that’s obvious.” Erdogan was a “thief” who lied and blackmailed everyone he said.
He called US President Donald Trump the “best president” of the United States. Not because of his politics, but because he talks openly. “All American presidents commit crimes and in the end they accept the Nobel Prize and act as defenders of human rights.” But in fact they are “criminals”. At least Trump is honest. “He says we want the oil. This has been the reality of American politics, at least since World War II.”
Trump had announced on Sunday the killing of the former leader of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Baghdadi, but Assad doubted this. “We do not know if there was a military operation or not,” Assad said.
The remains of Al-Baghdadi has not yet been shown. It could be one of the “tricks” of the Americans, he pointed out. “That’s why we should not believe everything they say until they come with the evidence.”
On Thursday, ISIS confirmed the death of Al-Baghdadi. He was allegedly killed in Barisha which is located in the Idlib Governorate north of Idlib and west of Aleppo, very close to the the major crossing point into Turkey.
Barisha is the headquarters of Huras Din. Huras Din was created last February, mainly from senior Non-Syrian members of Hayet Tahrir Sham, HTS which was created from Al-Qaida in 2016.
It was HTS that provided security for Turkey while setting up its twelve observation posts. This area is critical to both Turkey’s and the jihadi’s goal of retaining control of Idlib. It is not clear what Baghdadi was doing there.
It is noteworthy that President Trump thanked Russia, the Syrian Government, Turkey and Iraq for their help in the tracking and killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Vice President Pence said the US had intelligence of Baghdadi’s location earlier and then more a specific location just ahead of the raid. Russia and the SAA have been running reconnaissance and spying missions throughout Idlib and Russia may have been providing critical information to US in the lead up to this raid.
A Squadron, SFOD Delta was possibly the primary assault force, consisting of two assault troops and one reconnaissance troop supported by Rangers, said a source familiar with such operations. The troops most likely departed from the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Battle Group in the Mediterranean.
Visual images of 30mm HEDP shells from the raid area were available online, indicating that MH-60L helicopters from the 160th US Special Operations Wing were providing support with their M230 chain guns.