Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied reports about Russia asking him to step down from power even as US wants to start fresh talks with Moscow over his country’s situation.
“They never said a single word regarding this,” Assad told NBC News, referring to conversations with President Vladimir Putin and officials, reported BBC.
Assad quoted Putin as saying “only the Syrian people” would decide “when to come and when to go”.
The US has accused Assad 0f atrocities suffered by people in Syria and stresses the need for him to vacate the seat of power to end the conflict there.
On the other hand, Russia has been supporting the Syrian government in its fight against rebels and says only a political solution can resolve the conflict.
Assad seems not to worried about the outcome of the meeting between US and Moscow.
He showed confidence in his partnership with Russia and said that it’s (Russia’s) politics was not based on making deals but on values. He said it “won’t take more than a few months” until he regained full control of Syria.
He also said that “terrorism” in Syria had been pushed back “only when the Russians intervened” while the US was “not serious” about tackling so-called Islamic State.
“We wanted to defeat those terrorists, while the United States wanted to manage those groups in order to topple the government in Syria,” he said.
Assad also defended his government’s stance over the death of Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and said that she was responsible for her own death while covering the conflict in 2012.
“It’s a war and she came illegally to Syria. She worked with the terrorists, and because she came illegally, she’s been responsible of everything that befall on her,” he said.
Colvin’s family have sued the Syrian government in the US for wrongful death and claims they had evidence to show that she was murdered as part of a policy of deliberately killing journalists.
Recently, over 50 US State Department officials signed an internal memo protesting US policy in Syria, calling for targeted military strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and urging regime change as the only way to defeat the Islamic State.