“The reality is telling that, since the beginning of the American airstrikes, the terrorism has been expanding and prevailing,” Assad told NBC News in his Damascus office Thursday.
“It only shrinked when the Russians intervened.”
He said President Obama had “failed” on any intervention in Syria — accusing the American President of focusing too much on removing Assad from office, rather than bringing back stability in Syria.
“If we can get rid of those terrorists, if we can restore the stability in Syria, this is where we win,” he said.
“Otherwise, you cannot talk about winning.”
Obama demanded that Assad step down four years ago, after the Syrian president used chemical weapons in its civil war — something Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both called a “red line.” But the United States never followed through on specific action to oust Assad.
Assad called the American airstrikes in Syria “illegal” and said the U.S. government is becoming “more and more pyromaniac.”
Asked about the presumptive presidential candidates to succeed Obama, he said Clinton and Donald Trump are both only spouting “rhetoric” about Syrian intervention, and claimed neither would make much difference in his country’s conflict.
“We always hope that the next president will be much wiser than the previous one,” Assad said, declining to say if he preferred one of the candidates.
“That’s what we hope, but we never saw.”
He added that the upcoming end of the Obama administration “means nothing” for him and Syria.
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has vowed to simultaneously focus on defeating ISIS and removing Assad if elected. She called Assad the “reason we are in the mess we are in.”
But Trump — the presumptive Republican nominee, who has shown a bizarreaffinity for violent leaders — has said he would focus only on defeating ISIS, and leave Assad be. The brash billionaire deemed the American military actions in Syria “some of the dumbest deals I have ever seen.”
While bashing America in his interview, Assad heaped nothing but praise on Russia, whose military intervened in Syria in September.
He said Russia’s military might would help him reclaim Syria from ISIS in only “a few months” — even though he said just last year the terror group was rapidly taking over territories.
“The Russian support of the Syrian army has tipped the scales against the terrorists,” Assad said.
“It was the crucial factor.”
The United States and other Western countries have accused Russia of bombing civilians and assorted Assad enemies in addition to terrorists — and have said Assad has bombed and poisoned his own people.
But Assad absolved himself of any wrongdoing — saying any accusations of him are just “propaganda and media campaigns,” and claiming no one had evidence of his atrocities besides “pictures on the internet.”
The United Nations said more than 250,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war — and that was before the UN stopped keeping track of the death toll.