Syria conflict: Assad accuses UK of bullying

Rebels with wreckage of helicopter near Aleppo. 2 March 2013 Rebels continue to clash with government forces in Aleppo and other cities

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the British government of bullying and naivety in its approach to the conflict in his country.

In an interview with the UK's Sunday Times newspaper, he said Britain was determined to militarise the situation.

He repeated his conditional offer of talks with the opposition and dismissed suggestions that he might step down.

The UK says it supports the Syrian opposition but does not provide rebels with arms.

However, at a recent Friends of Syria meeting in Rome, Foreign Secretary William Hague said military aid was possible in the future.

Mr Assad, in a rare interview with a Western newspaper, accused UK Prime Minister David Cameron's "naive, confused, unrealistic" government of trying to end an EU arms embargo so that the rebels could be supplied with weapons.

William Hague: "You can reach the point eventually... that you have to do something new in order to save lives"

"We do not expect an arsonist to be a firefighter," he said.

"To be frank, Britain has played a famously unconstructive role in our region on different issues for decades, some say for centuries.

"The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlights this tradition of bullying and hegemony."

He added: "How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role when it is determined to militarise the problem?

"How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better, more stable? How can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supply to the terrorists and don't try to ease the dialogue between the Syrian(s)."

About 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian uprising that started almost two years ago. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, fighting is continuing between Syrian government forces and rebels across the country.

Start Quote

President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. 12 Feb 2013

How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role when it is determined to militarise the problem?”

End Quote Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Opposition activists reported fierce clashes around the northern provincial capital of Raqqa and said dozens of people had been killed.

Government forces shelled several areas of the city and there were running battles on the outskirts of the city, activists said.

Fighting was also reported at a police academy near the northern city of Aleppo; in the rebel enclave of Daraya and around the capital Damascus.

The violence comes amid the first overseas trip by new US Secretary of State John Kerry.

In the Turkish capital Ankara on Friday, he said the US and Turkey believed "the first priority is to try and have a political solution. We would like to save lives, not see them caught up in a continuing war".

But the BBC's Jim Muir, monitoring the conflict from Beirut, says that despite the huge amount of diplomacy going on, there is little actual movement.

War is continuing all over the country, he adds.

The main Syrian opposition alliance, the National Coalition, has dismissed offers of talks with the government while President Assad remains in power.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    How many terrible totalitarian regimes are the USA and our gov. supporting? But this one needs regime overthrow that causes misery for its people! Not only that but the rebels are now known to be mostly Islamic jihadists, who will take any arms and training given and use it on our own people in future. I sthere no depths this govt. wont sink to for money? Even betraying GB and Christians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    It beggars belief that Hague is willing to, and allowed to, prop up this bunch of deranged muslim fanatics - where is the money coming from?
    Oh yes, from the pockets of UK citizens who will be the target of this lot when they achieve their aims and don't need our money anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Doing nothing seems to be the solution you all put forward to avoid this war coming to us, well worst things are on the way even if we stand still as you saw by the bombers recently caught trying to out-do the 7/05 bombers. Assad's end fate is going to happen, for sure. Then what? We dread his successors?

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    334. whatisgoingon
    ok if there is such concern then why have the un not done anything of any relevance,there are other countries in the un that could go there or supply military assistance,what about italy,germany,spain,switzerland,austria,france,portugal,etc
    As in the Germany that has deployed troops to Turkey to operate Patriot missile batteries near the Syrian border?

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    What are we doing,why are we supporting the very types that our soldiers are dying to protect us from ???. I am starting the believe that Cameron,Obama and their cronies are latent closet Islamists what with the Libya shambles . These people are not, and never will be, our friends and whatever we arm them with will be turned on us asap, Get real Cameron and smell the coffee

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    332. sanbag
    Since when do the European left ... give a hoot about Christians being persecuted? they certainly don't care about Jews.
    Being against Israel's policies for example on Palestinians is not the same as not caring about jews. Can you not differentiate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    ok if there is such concern then why have the un not done anything of any relevance,there are other countries in the un that could go there or supply military assistance,what about italy,germany,spain,switzerland,austria,france,portugal,etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Assad is completely correct in what he says. For Hague to pretend the UK is involved in Syria for humanitarian reasons is laughable. Blair used that old chestnut numerous times and it doesn't wash. The unwritten policy of the US, UK and Israel is to split Syria into several new states to weaken its regional influence. The UK is increasing Syrians' suffering by meddling in and extending war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    Supporting the muslim brotherhood is supporting future atrocities against Christians and Jews in the region.


    As if any supporter of Assad, Hezbollah and Iran gives a hoot about Jews or Christians.

    Since when do the European left or Shia Muslims give a hoot about Christians being persecuted? they certainly don't care about Jews.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    What the hell are we doing supporting these rebels ???. We need to be supporting the legitimate regime. I agree the Assad is not a nice man but this is a case of better the devil you know. His regime is at least secular and non Muslims are allowed to worship freely. We now here of these rebels,our potential allies,killing Christians. Now we are speaking of actually arming these people !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    63.Jiminy Cricket
    "The outcome is inevitable - the house of cards is stacked against him"

    No. This is a Sunni-Shia conflict and Assad is backed to the hilt by the big players Iran, Russia and China. Not the mention Hezbollah. This means that there is a huge danger of escalation. And if Hague and Cameron continue to meddle, we will be sucked into a war no-one can win. WW3 could start right here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    A quick history lesson
    Iran was secular and gave oil money to its people and not to west.
    The west wanted oil so caused a coup d'etat.
    The pro west government caused mass poverty so the people revolted.
    The new government started to acquire nuclear technology.
    The Sunni neighbors and west were worried so funded a revolution its ally Syria.
    Syria were secular so the only rebels were Islamic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    President Assad only got the job because his Dad was President.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    Don't let's get involved. It's not our issue. Iraq, Afghanistan, even Libya, show that there is no 'right' course of action for the UK. Intervene, and many on the left/lib/muslim side will oppose it; stay out, and we'll be accused of standing by while Assad kills his own people.

    So let's take the cheapest option - stay out, leave them to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    Ken B
    1 Hour ago

    Here we go again being the world police force !!! dont get dragged into another years long conflict

    Sorry! Russia & China took over the policeman's job with Syria & made a right "Hames" of it. Just not cut out for such responsibility are these 2. Make more mess than order. Even as far as making the whole thing worse by supplying arms to Assad the down & out proper "Bully"!

  • Comment number 325.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    When successive governments deliberately cause civil unrest with draconian laws and treatment of civilians then send in an armed militia to attack and sometimes murder unarmed protesters without fear of prosecution it's about time something was done about it!!

    Oh SYRIA? I thought we were discussing England!

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    If history teaches us anything it is that we never learn from it.

    Viva la revelution, coup d'etat, militery overthrow, rigged elections et., etc.

    In fact it seems that these happemn is because SOME human beings like war and politicians in particular.

    That attitude alone should be held against them but somehow that word GREED surfaces again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    How about Hague et al going there to show them how to use the weapons without a bodyguard, no body armour and the same cruddy useless equipment given to our military. Camoron and the others need a war in their attempts to get somewhere with the next election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    With WHAT exactly are we going to FUND this gift of arms to the Syrian rebels,& WHAT CRITERION will be used to check the suitability of those receiving the UK taxpayer's largesse?
    Oh yes,of course! We'll cut benefits for the vulnerable AGAIN,some of which might affect returning service personnel,who cares about them?
    Certainly not politicians bent on getting us involved in ANOTHER ME crusade-!!


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