Assad: Trump could be ‘natural ally’ against terrorists
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Assad: Trump could be ‘natural ally’ against terrorists

President-elect should hold true to campaign pledge to 'really act against terror' for successful Mideast policy, says Syrian leader

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 21, 2016 (Syrian Presidency via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 21, 2016 (Syrian Presidency via AP)

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Russia 24 and NTV television channels, broadcast on Wednesday, that President-elect Donald Trump could be a “natural ally” should he follow through on a pledge to tackle terror.

If Trump can “really act against terrorism, I believe that he will be our natural ally and your natural ally,” Assad said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

But Assad also cast doubt on the president-elect’s sincerity and ability to do so now that he has won the election.

“Trump’s statements were clear during his campaign in relation to fighting terrorism, non-intervention against states in order to depose governments, as the United States has been doing for decades,” the Syrian president said. “This is good, but this depends on Trump’s will to carry on with this approach, and his ability to do that.”

Syrian residents, fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood, arrive in Aleppo's Fardos neighborhood on December 13, 2016, after regime troops retook the area from rebel fighters. (AFP/STRINGER)
Syrian residents, fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, arrive in Aleppo’s Fardos neighborhood on December 13, 2016, after regime troops retook the area from rebel fighters. (AFP/STRINGER)

The president-elect has not commented or tweeted about the crisis in Aleppo and widespread fears of humanitarian disaster. Yet his previous comments on the broader conflict suggest he’s more than open to a policy shift.

During the campaign, Trump asserted that defeating the Islamic State group in Syria, not Assad, must be the top priority, a position that mirrors Russia’s.

“I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved,” Trump said in October, using an acronym for the extremist group.

US President-elect Donald Trump speaks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, December 9, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT)
US President-elect Donald Trump speaks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, December 9, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT)
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