President Bashar Assad rejected US accusations that Syrian or Russian planes struck an aid convoy in Aleppo or that his troops were preventing food from entering the city’s rebel-held eastern neighborhoods. Instead, he blamed the US for the collapse of a cease-fire many had hoped would bring relief to the war-ravaged country.
In an interview, Assad also said deadly US airstrikes on Syrian troops last week were intentional, dismissing American officials’ statements that they were an accident, adding the US lacked “the will” to join forces with Russia in fighting extremists.
Assad, who inherited power from his father, is now in his 16th year in office, and has been solidified by his forces’ military advances and by the Russian air campaign, which turned the tables on the battlefield last year.
He said his enemies alone were to blame for nearly six years of devastation across Syria, and while acknowledging some mistakes, repeatedly denied any excesses by his troops. He said the war was only likely to “drag on” because of continued external support for his opponents.
Assad dismissed the claims that the strikes on the aid convoy on Monday were backed by Russia, saying whatever American officials say “has no credibility” and is “just lies”. Like Syria, Russia has denied carrying out the bombing.