Syrian President Bashar Assad said he considers his long-time ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin as the “only defender of Christian civilization” one can trust, a comment made in an interview with a French magazine following the Paris attacks.
“When I look at the present state of things in the world, I realize that Vladimir Putin is the sole defender of Christian civilization one can rely on,” Mr. Assad told French magazine Valeurs Actuelles, Sputnik News reported.
Mr. Assad said he would step down only if asked to by the Syrian people and the Syrian parliament. He said the matter of his possible resignation has not yet been raised on an international level.
He also said that Syria would not share intelligence information with France until Paris changes its policies in the region to refocus its efforts on counterterrorism.
“If the French government is not serious in its fight against terrorism, we will not waste our time collaborating with a country, government or an institution that supports terrorism,” Mr. Assad said in the interview carried out the day after several terrorists attacks left 129 people dead and 352 wounded in Paris. The full interview will be published on Nov. 19.
“You have to first change policy so that it is based on one criteria, to be part of an alliance that joins countries only fighting terrorism and not supporting them,” Mr. Assad said, Sputnik reported.
France was one of the first countries to join the U.S. in the international coalition to combat the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. France has maintained that Mr. Assad is the main threat in Syria’s civil war that has seen more than 220,000 killed in over four years.
More than 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, many of them migrating to Europe, sparking fears that radical islamist militants may be entering the European Union amongst the refugees.
At least two of the attackers that carried out the bombings and shootings in Paris on Nov. 13 entered Europe via Greece with migrants from Syria.