Assad Says Paris Attacks Due to Western ‘Terrorism’

January 14, 2015  

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Western “shortsightedness” and “support for terrorism” in the revolt against his authoritarian rule were to blame for last week’s attacks in Paris, state media reported Wednesday.

In his first reaction to the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in which a total of 17 people were murdered by Islamist terrorists, Assad said he had repeatedly warned Western governments that their support for rebel groups in Syria risked a blowback of violence at home.

“We need to remind many in the West that we have warned of such incidents since the beginning of the crisis in Syria,” he told Czech newspaper Literarni Noviny in an interview to be published on Thursday.

“We kept saying you must not support terrorists or give them political cover, or else this will impact your countries and your peoples,” he said in excerpts carried by the Syrian Arab News Agency.

Assad said that Western leaders, like those of Syria’s former colonial ruler France, who had championed his removal, had been “short-sighted and narrow-minded.”

“What happened in France has proven that everything we said was right,” he gloated.

Assad’s blaming of the West for Islamist terrorism echoes statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, when he said the West is “playing games with the Islamic world.”

“French citizens carry out such a massacre, and Muslims pay the price,” Erdogan said. “The West’s hypocrisy is obvious. As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres.”

Ever since a revolt broke out against Damascus in 2011, Assad has made no distinction between peaceful and armed opponents.

He has also used the term “terrorist” to refer to all armed rebels, both the Western-backed Free Syrian Army and the jihadist groups that now dominate the revolt.

A UN report last September found that Assad’s government was responsible for more atrocities than Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, by using various inhumane measures such as barrel-bombing cities and chemical weapons. The aide to Syria’s chief mufti last January gave soldiers religious permission to rape women as a means of punishing rebel forces.

According to a new report last Friday, Assad also is building nuclear weapons in a secret underground facility.

AFP contributed to this report.

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