Syria’s president is blaming the West for the refugee crisis that he caused

He thinks he has the solution.
He thinks he has the solution.
Image: REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters
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Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad took to the Russian airwaves to offer Europe some advice on the refugee crisis—and ended up blaming everyone but himself for the brutal conflict in his country, and the plight of more than 4 million people who were forced out by war.

“Actually, it’s like the West now is crying for the refugees with one eye and aiming at them with a machine gun with the second one, because actually those refugees left Syria because of the terrorism….”Assad said. He then went on to lay out how the West, by supporting the rebels fighting against him, actually brought the crisis upon itself. Conflating the rebels with ISIL, he said:

So, the West is crying for them, and the West is supporting terrorists since the beginning of the crisis when it said that this was a peaceful uprising, when they said later it’s moderate opposition, and now they say there is terrorism like al-Nusra and ISIS, but because of the Syrian state or the Syrian regime or the Syrian president.

Assad said that Europe is “not dealing with the cause,” and “as long as they follow this propaganda,” refugees will keep coming. ”If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists.”

But here’s the problem: Assad, not the Western-backed rebels or even ISIL, is overwhelmingly responsible for the plight of Syrian civilians, according to organizations monitoring the conflict.

ISIL is expert at advertising its brutality, but Assad’s forces are actually responsible for many more deaths. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, between January and July of 2015, Assad’s military and militias loyal to him killed 7,894 people, while ISIL fighters killed 1,131. (h/t Washington Post).

“When you have terrorism, and you have the destruction of the infrastructure, you won’t have the basic needs of living, so many people leave because of the terrorism and because they want to earn their living somewhere in this world,” Assad said, leaving out the fact that his government is conducting indiscriminate airstrikes around the country, wreaking havoc. Only in July, government planes (delivered by Russia), carried out 7,000 air raids, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Human rights groups say the strikes amount to war crimes.

Meanwhile, the West continues to focus its efforts on targeting ISIS militants, prioritizing curbing the group’s rise. French President Francois Hollande said only last week that the only solution to the conflict in Syria was ousting Assad. On Monday, (Sept. 14), he announced that France would also take part in airstrikes against ISIS.