Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | assad | cbs | 60 minutes | ISIS

Bashar Assad to '60 Minutes': ISIS Not Being Beaten

By    |   Sunday, 29 March 2015 07:02 PM

Islamic State (ISIS) militants are not being defeated by U.S. airstrikes, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Charlie Rose in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Assad said there are local benefits from the airstrikes, "but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS, actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes."

He said America sugar coats the situation, saying it is improving.

The real battle isn't about numbers anyway, Assad said, but about winning "hearts and minds." On that front, he says the Syrian government is winning.

The Syrian civil war is complicated, with Assad's military facing two enemies, the Syrian opposition, which is supported by the United States, and ISIS, which is attempting to establish a religious caliphate in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Though the United States wants Assad ousted from power, its airstrikes against ISIS actually benefit him. Various accusations have said that both Assad and the Syrian rebels have been aligned with ISIS.

"You can tell that the majority of the people who suffered from ISIS, they are supporting the government, Assad said, "and, of course, the rest of the Syrian people are afraid from ISIS, and I think they [ISIS] lost a lot of hearts and minds."

The only people who support ISIS, he said, are "very ideological people who have Wahhabi state of mind and ideology."

The sect of Sunni Islam calls for a return to the strict interpretations of the Quran, and Assad noted that American ally Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi as well.

Turkey, on Syria's northern border, is led by President Tayyip Erdogan, whom Assad called a "Muslim Brotherhood fanatic." Erdogan is "suffering from political megalomania" and "he thinks that he is becoming the sultan of the new era of the 21st century," he said, laughing.

Erdogan could stop ISIS recruits from crossing the border from Turkey to Syria, Assad said.

"He doesn't only ignore the terrorists from coming to Syria, he supports them, logistically and militarily, directly, on daily basis," he told Rose.

On his support from Russia and Iran, Assad said that both countries want stability in the region, and he has promised them nothing for their help.

"Syria and Iran and Russia see eye-to-eye regarding these conflicts," he said.

Assad, who inherited his position from his father, said he plans to remain in power as long as the public supports him. And that will be determined by his own intuition, he said.

He said he welcomes Secretary of State John Kerry's gesture toward talks, but added that it is not up to the United States or any other country to call for him to leave office. He said he welcomes a political solution to Syria's ongoing war.

He also denied using chlorine gas against his own people. He said it isn't effective, and further, shouldn't be considered a military weapon because "You can buy it anywhere."

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Islamic State (ISIS) militants are not being defeated by U.S. airstrikes, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Charlie Rose in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes."
assad, cbs, 60 minutes, ISIS
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2015-02-29
Sunday, 29 March 2015 07:02 PM
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