Syrian dictator Bashar Assad blamed French foreign policy for the Paris massacre, saying France’s policies had contributed to the “spread of terrorism.”
“The terrorist attacks that targeted the French capital Paris cannot be separated from what happened in the Lebanese capital Beirut lately and from what has been happening in Syria for the past five years and in other areas,” Assad said during a meeting with French lawmakers in Damascus on Saturday, according to a report at Today Online.
“Yesterday France has known what we have been living in Syria over the past five years,” Assad added, according to International Business Times.
The Washington Post, working from reports in the official Syrian state news agency, says that Assad expressed sympathy for the loss of life in Paris, but strove to connect those attacks to the rebellion that has been in progress against his regime for several years. He has always characterized the rebel forces as “terrorists.” France has supported the Syrian opposition and called for military action against the dictatorship.
“Wrong [policies] adopted by Western states, particularly France, toward events in the region, and its ignorance of the support of a number of its allies to terrorists are reasons behind the expansion of terrorism,” the Post quotes Assad telling the French delegation.
The Post observes that “sympathy to the bereaved people and government of France” came from Hassan Rouhani, president of Assad’s patron Iran, without reservation. Rouhani canceled a planned trip to Italy and France following Friday’s terrorist attack.
Messages of sympathy and solidarity with France also came from Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir declared the Paris bloodbath was “beyond all ethics, morals and religions,” according to the Washington Post.