Damascus:Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to continue operations in eastern Ghouta, stressing that they are part of the country’s battle against terrorism.
“We will continue fighting terrorism … and the Ghouta operation is a continuation of fighting terrorism,” said Assad during a Sunday broadcast on state television.
“There is no contradiction between a truce and combat operations. The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army was made during this truce,” he added.
The Syrian president was referring to a Russian-proposed daily humanitarian ceasefire from 9 am to 2 pm local time.
“Therefore we must continue with the operation in parallel with opening the way for civilians to leave,” he added.
He further went on to dismiss Western claims concerning the humanitarian situation in eastern Ghouta as ridiculous false accusations. “The humanitarian situation which the West speaks of from time to time, is a very ridiculous lie, as ridiculous as the western officials who repeat it.”
Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus that is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, with Takfiri terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.
“We have not started from Ghouta; we have started since the first day in combating terrorism in every place, we have started in Aleppo, Homs, Dayr al-Zawr; the operation in Ghouta is a continuation of combating terrorism in different places,” Assad added.
The Syrian president also condemned accusations by the West over Damascus using chemical weapons, adding that such claims were only an excuse to attack the Syrian army.
“Most western officials spoke about the use of chemical weapons only to come back after some days to say we have no proof. So they are damaging their credibility, and casting doubt over these allegations, with their own words,” he stressed. “In addition, we abandoned the chemical weapon in 2013 and there is an organization concerned in inquiring this issue, and if there was any evidence, it would announce this thing, so I repeat, it is a mere blackmail which is used as a pretext to direct strikes against the Syrian army.”
Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 2013 and surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons months later to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.
Western governments and their allies, however, have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.
Referring to the US-led coalition’s continued airstrikes on civilian positions, Assad noted that coalition is simply Daesh’s air force.