WASHINGTON: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he shares the same goals as Iran and Russia when it comes to the brutal war tearing apart his country.
Assad, speaking on PBS television in excerpts of an interview airing Monday, insisted that close allies Russia and Iran “want to have balance in the world.”
“It’s not only about Syria. I’m (a) small country. It’s not about having a huge interest in Syria. They could have it anywhere else,” he told the US public television network.
“So, it’s about the future of the world. They want to be a great power that has their own say in the future of this world.”
In Syria, he said, “they want stability, and a political solution.”
“Syria and Iran and Russia see eye to eye regarding this conflict,” Assad added.
The interview with talk show host Charlie Rose also aired last week on CBS television’s “60 Minutes” program.
Iran-backed Shiite militias are fighting the Islamic State group, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, declaring an Islamic “caliphate” and committing widespread atrocities.
Russia operates a naval base in Tartus along Syria’s western shores that includes warships, barracks and warehouses.
Set up under a 1971 security agreement, Moscow has called its Tartus presence “a supply and technical point for the Russian navy.”
Last week, Assad told Russian news channels that he would welcome an increased Russian military presence at Syria’s seaports.
More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began, and half the country’s population has been displaced.