Trump signifies he will end US support for Syrian rebels fighting Assad

US President-elect Donald Trump warns that by attacking Bashar al-Assad, the US 'will end up fighting Russia' 

Bashar al-Assad said he is ready to cooperate with Donald Trump
Bashar al-Assad said he is ready to cooperate with Donald Trump

US President-elect Donald Trump has signified that he will abandon the Obama administration’s support for Syrian rebels fighting president Bashar al-Assad.

“I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria. My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Trump said that while he “did not like [Assad] at all, shoring up his regime would be the best tactic to stem the extremism that has flourished in the chaos of the civil war.

He also warned that attacking Assad could see the US fighting Russia, who he said he wants to mend ties with.

“Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria…Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are,” he said, referring to the hardline Sunni Islamist elements present in revel ranks. “If the US attacks Assad, we will end up fighting Russia.”

Trump’s shock victory in the US election this week was welcomed by Moscow and Tehram, as well as Damascus, with Assad saying on Thursday that he is “ready” to cooperate with the President-elect going forward.

To date, the US, along with Turkey and Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has tacitly supported rebels in Syria. The long-standing US position has been that Assad must be deposed and democratic elections take place to end the complex conflict, now in its sixth year.

Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton had proposed a no-fly zone over Syria, a position Syrian rebels had been hopeful could stem the aerial attacks that have turned the tide of war in Assad’s favour since Russia began lending military support to the Syrian government in September 2015. 

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