News / Middle East

Assad: West Will Pay for 'Supporting' al-Qaida Rebels

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) attends an interview with Syrian television channel al-Ikhbariya in Damascus, in this handout photograph from Syria's national news agency SANA, April 17, 2013.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) attends an interview with Syrian television channel al-Ikhbariya in Damascus, in this handout photograph from Syria's national news agency SANA, April 17, 2013.
VOA News
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned the West that it will pay a "heavy price" for what he called its support of al-Qaida militants fighting against his autocratic government.

In a rare interview with state-run Al-Ikhbariya television, Mr. Assad said the consequences of alleged Western support for al-Qaida will be felt in the "heart of Europe and the United States."

Washington has refused to provide weapons to Syrian rebel groups, fearing that some of the arms could end up in the hands of al-Qaida.

Assad also repeated his refusal to surrender to the rebels, whom he calls terrorists backed by foreign enemies.  He said that if his government does not win the civil war, Syria will be "finished."

The White House responded to the latest Assad remarks by saying he is willing to kill tens of thousands of his own people, and that his regime has mercilessly targeted hospitals, universities and bread lines to repress the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

The United States has sent non-lethal aid to the secular pro-Western rebels, but designated Syria's main Islamist faction, the Nusra Front, as a terrorist organization.  The Nusra Front swore allegiance to al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri last week, confirming its al-Qaida links.

Assad also warned that the "fire" of the Syrian civil war could spread to neighboring Jordan. Syrian officials have long accused Jordan of training, arming and sending rebels into Syria.  Amman has been hosting thousands of Syrian refugees from the conflict but has not confirmed sending any fighters across the border.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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