President Bashar al-Assad of Syria criticized harshly the British and U.S. aid given to rebels. He set strong terms for talks with his rebel opponents in an interview with a newspaper that was published Sunday, while fighting continued across the entire country.
In the conflict, rebels made substantial headway in northeastern Syria, which has been heavily contested. The rebels captured a complex containing a police academy just west of the city of Aleppo and stormed the city if Ragga’s prison. The rebels also took control of a border crossing along the border of Syria and Iraq, said a rebel spokesperson.
In a Sunday Times interview, al-Assad took a hard line against opponents, rewinding his earlier hints of flexibility over peace talks. Assad said he would negotiate with anyone, which includes the militants, if they surrender their weapons. He said his government would not negotiate with terrorists who want to have weapons, to kills civilians, to terrorize and to attack private enterprise or public places, while destroying the country.
The majority of the opposition groups have rejected peace talks with Assad’s regime, with some saying no talks would begin until Assad resigns.
However, Assad says resigning or going into exile is not an option, saying that no one who is patriotic would live in any other country but his own.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Terry met in Rome with Syria’s rebel leaders. He announced the U.S. would give a $60 million aid package to rebels that was non-lethal. However, Assad said the financial, communication and intelligence assistance the U.S. was giving the rebels was very lethal.
Assad also criticized British leaders saying instead of trying to push for peace talks, David Cameron the Prime Minister of Britain was trying to have an arms embargo of the European Union ended, so he can arm the rebels with new weapons.