Syria's Assad blames West for refugee crisis

President Assad: Syrian Refugees Left Because of Terrorism

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blamed Europe's refugee crisis on Western support for "terrorists", as people fleeing his country's civil war stream towards the European Union.

In his first public comments on the mass migration, broadcast on Wednesday, Assad said Europe could expect more refugees.

Countries including the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia want to see Assad gone from power and have supported the opposition to his rule during the four-year-old war, including some of the armed groups fighting him.

Assad said Turkish support had been crucial to the growth of two of the biggest insurgent groups in Syria, Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, and aerial bombing by a U.S.-led coalition had failed to stop Islamic State. Turkey denies the accusation.

See photos of Assad:

13 PHOTOS
Syrian President Bashar Assad
See Gallery
Syria's Assad blames West for refugee crisis
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Croatian newspaper Vecernji List in Damascus, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on April 6, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with Syrian army soldiers in eastern Ghouta, Syria, March 18, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with Syrian army soldiers in eastern Ghouta, Syria, March 18, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shows the way to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia November 20, 2017. Picture taken November 20, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as seen in Damascus, Syria November 14, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with RIA Novosti and Sputnik in this handout picture provided by SANA on April 21, 2017, Syria. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stands next to his wife Asma, as he addresses injured soldiers and their mothers during a celebration marking Syrian Mother's Day in Damascus, in this handout picture provided by SANA on March 21, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE SEARCH "ALEPPO TIMELINE" FOR THIS STORY
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in this handout picture provided by SANA on February 10, 2017, Syria. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks to French journalists in Damascus, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on January 9, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad (L) talks to a Syrian army soldier behind barricades in the farms of Marj al-Sultan village, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on June 26, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with a Cuban news agency in this handout picture provided by SANA on July 21, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (4th L) attends prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, in al-Safa Mosque in Homs, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on July 6, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad greets people on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, in al-Safa Mosque in Homs, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on July 6, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The Syrian president dismissed Western suggestions that his government's actions in the war had fueled the spread of such groups.

"As long as they follow this propaganda, they will have more refugees," Assad said in an interview with Russian media. "If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists."

The Syrian government describes all the armed groups fighting it as terrorists. The insurgents in Syria range from the hardline Islamist Islamic State to nationalists viewed as moderate by the West.

RUSSIAN SUPPORT

Assad has been buoyed in recent weeks by signs of increased military support from his ally Russia. In his comments he made no mention of reports of Russian military activity in Syria.

The White House said on Tuesday it wanted to see Russia engage constructively with the international coalition fighting Islamic State, rather than build up its own military presence.

Moscow says the Syrian government should be part of a broad coalition to fight Islamic State.

Assad said there was no coordination between his government and the United States, even indirectly, apparently backing away from comments earlier this year suggesting there had been some contact.

"There's not a single coordination or contact between the Syrian government and the United States government or between the Syrian army and the U.S. army ... Not even any third party including the Iraqis," he said.

He played down proposals for a peace initiative that Assad ally Iran has said it presented to Syrian officials.

"There is currently no Iranian initiative, but rather there are ideas, or principles, for an Iranian initiative which are based principally on the subject of Syria's sovereignty ... and are based on fighting terrorism," Assad said.

(Reporting by John Davison and Sylvia Westall; editing by Andrew Roche)

More on AOL.com:
Hungary closes border with Serbia, fear ensues
Sri Lanka fireball performers add thrills to processions
Mayor: Toronto not bidding for 2024 Olympics

Read Full Story