EXCLUSIVE – Syrian Official: U.S. Must Cooperate With Assad Regime to Fight Terror

Syrian troops hold a position on the outskirts of Palmyra on March 25, 2016, during a military operation to retake the ancient city from the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group.

TEL AVIV, Israel – The Syrian army’s recent victories over the Islamic State will foster cooperation between Syria and the U.S., despite the latter’s reticence, a Damascus official told Breitbart Jerusalem.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad succeeded in pushing IS out of the strategic town of Palmyra on Saturday, which may lead to more victories over IS in Deir al-Zour and Reqqa, the organization’s stronghold.

The Information Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview was not officially sanctioned, said that since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the U.S. funded and trained forces opposed to the Assad regime. The primary beneficiary of this protracted war of attrition was IS, he said.

Because IS is a terrorist group, the Assad regime attributed more importance to Saudi and U.S.-backed opposition groups, which “dragged Washington into the Syrian quagmire, from which it only now tries to be extracted, thanks to Russia.”

The official claimed that the events of recent months have shown that the only bulwark against the spread of terror in Syria is the Assad regime, while the Saudi and U.S.-backed rebel organizations have maintained what he described as a “love-hate relationship” with IS and the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front.

“They never saw them as enemies or ideological adversaries,” he said.

The dissent between the U.S.-backed groups and IS and Nusra Front … was about the distribution of resources. And the proof is that on the eve of last month’s Geneva talks, Saudi Arabia, backed by America, demanded that the areas controlled by Nusra be included in the ceasefire agreement, which Syria and Russia dismissed out of hand. America was subsequently left with no choice but to declare Nusra, Riyadh’s ally, a terrorist organization.

The only difference between the U.S.-backed organizations, which, the official claimed, include the Army of Islam, as well as IS and Nusra Front, is that the former are loyal to their backers. “They are Salafi jihadist groups, whose vision for Syria is identical to IS and Nusra. They want to turn secular Syria into a Taliban-style Afghanistan.”

The first indications of a sea change in American policy came against the recent gains made by Russian and Syrian forces in Palmyra, Homs, and other places, during which U.S.-backed opposition groups were forced to abide by the ceasefire, said the official. “It is encouraging, but too little and too late. With American backing, the rebels ravaged Syria and exported their ideology to other places, including Turkey and Europe, where we’ve now seen the results.”

The Americans now understand that they will have to cooperate with Russia and the Syrian regime, which they declined to do before, he added. “They now realize that they have to be part of the war against terror, rather than aid and abet it, whether directly or indirectly.”

“Russia’s resolve was clearly what tipped the balance,” he said.

The United States was ruled by an inexperienced president who persuaded inexperienced European leaders to do the bidding of benighted Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, while we had, on our side, experienced KGB veterans who know the region very well, who aren’t fooled by misguided slogans of spring and liberty and freedom and know that they are merely decoys to take over Syria and undermine Iran.

Five years on, it is clear that the millions squandered by America amounted to a short-sighted bid for a regime change in Syria. I don’t see how the U.S., which stood by terrorist organizations all along, gets to play a part in rebuilding Syria, as opposed to countries like Russia, China, and Brazil that supported us.