Assad: ISIS has Expanded Since US Air Strikes Began

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said in an interview that the ISIS has expanded since US air strikes began.

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World
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<!--StartFragment--> Syrian President Bashar Assad gestures during an interview. (Photo: AP)<!--EndFragment-->


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, in a US television interview with CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ that ISIS, which has seized swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, has been rapidly gaining recruits since the start of US-led air strikes against the militant group.

Sometimes you could have local benefit but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS, actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes.
–Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria

Assad, who has been fighting Islamist and other rebels since 2011, said in the interview aired on Sunday that there were some estimates that the Islamic State was attracting 1,000 recruits a month in Syria.

“And Iraq––they are expanding in–in Libya and––many other–al Qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to ISIS. So that’s the situation,” Assad said.

Washington is seeking a negotiated settlement to Syria’s civil war that excludes Assad, but has simultaneously made clear that its top priority in Syria is the fight against ISIS militants.

Asked under what circumstances he would leave power, Assad declared: “When I don’t have the public support. When I don’t represent the Syrian interests, and values.”

In reply to a question about how he determined what support he had among Syrians, he said: “I don’t determine. I sense. I feel. I’m in contact with them.”

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