May 17, 2012
May 17, 2012
Legislative elections in Syria this month showed a majority support for the the regime and the government’s policy of reform, embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview broadcasted on Wednesday.
The results of the May 7 poll revealed that the Syrian people “are until now supporting the policy of reform” and “support the institutions of the state,” Assad told Russia’s Rossia-24 state news channel.
Assad, whose regime has been engaged in a bloody standoff with opposition rebels, lashed out at “threats of terrorists” which he said were aimed at preventing the elections from taking place.
“The Syrian people are not scared of the threats of terrorists who have tried to wreck the elections or even prevent us from holding them,” he added.
Voter turnout was 51.26 percent, Syrian officials have said. However, only limited results of these elections have been released.
Assad described the elections as a “very important step” and “part of the reforms that we started around a year ago.”
“The polling stations show the opinion of the people. It is a serious message for everyone both inside the country and also beyond its borders,” he added.
Assad complained that since the arrival of U.N. observers monitoring the Annan plan there had been a reduction in “direct confrontation” between the two sides but an increase in “terrorist attacks.”
Assad also said that countries that “sow chaos” in Syria could suffer from it themselves.
“For the leaders of these countries, it’s becoming clear that this is not ‘Spring’ but chaos, and as I have said, if you sow chaos in Syria you may be infected by it yourself, and they understand this perfectly well,” Assad said, referring to the Arab Spring that toppled long-entrenched leaders in the Middle East.
Assad said Western sanctions are affecting Syria’s economy but Damascus has a “wonderful relationship” with non-Western countries, according to state-run Rossiya-24’s translation of his remarks.
Accusing the West of ignoring opposition violence, he said: “The West only talks about violence, violence on the government side. There is not a word about the terrorists. We are still waiting.”
He said Annan was due again in Syria this month. “I will ask him what this is about.”
Assad denounced the armed opposition as a gang of “criminals” who he said contained religious extremists including members of al-Qaeda.
“It is not an army and it is not free,” he said, referring to the opposition Free Syrian Army that is fighting the regime.
“They get money and weapons from abroad from various countries. It is a group of criminals who have for years broken the law and received convictions. There are also religious extremists there like from al-Qaeda.”
Assad said that many “foreign mercenaries” from Arab countries fighting for the opposition had been killed but others were still alive.
“They have been captured and we are preparing to show them to the world,” he said, without giving further details.
He also repeated claims first in Serbian media and repeated by Russia that members of the armed opposition were travelling to Kosovo in order to gain experience from former fighters there.
Talking about the newly elected French President, Bashar al-Assad said he hoped the election of Socialist President Francois Hollande in France will lead to a change in French policy toward his country.
Assad’s interview took place while fifteen civilians were “summarily executed” by regime forces in a neighborhood of the central Syrian city of Homs overnight, and as many as sixteen people have been killed by Syrian forces across the country.
Earlier, the Syrian National Council (SNC) issued a statement accusing forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of committing a “new massacre” in Khan Sheikhoun town in Idlib.
The SNC underlined that the international peace plan has been violated in most of the Syrian cities “from Azzaz in Aleppo to Dael to al-Harak and Kharbat al-Ghazala in Deraa as well as Damascus suburbs, Baniyas, Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deir Ezzor.
Source: Alarabiya with agencies