Syria's President Assad says Donald Trump will be 'natural ally' to 'fight the terrorists'

President-elect could join Russia and Iran in supporting Syria, Mr Assad says

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The Independent Online

Donald Trump will be a "natural ally" of the Syrian regime if he fulfils his pledge to "fight the terrorists," President Bashar al-Assad has said.

Speaking for the first time since Mr Trump's election victory last week, the Syrian president said he was unsure the American billionaire would be able to keep his word and step up the fight against jihadists.

"We cannot tell anything about what he's going to do, but if... he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries," he told Portugal's RTP state television.

When he was asked about Mr Trump's campaign comments suggesting the US should focus more on fighting Isis than the Syrian regime, Mr Assad remained cautious but said he would welcome such a move.

"I would say this is promising, but can he deliver?" he replied.

"Can he go in that regard? What about the countervailing forces within the administration, the mainstream media that were against him? How can he deal with it?" he said.

"That's why for us it's still dubious whether he can do or live up to his promises or not.

"That's why we are very cautious in judging him, especially as he wasn't in a political position before."

One of Mr Assad's supporters previously said he was "ready" to cooperate with the US President-elect.

The United States is currently leading an international coalition conducting air strikes against Isis fighters in Syria and Iraq. It also backs rebels fighting the Assad regime. 

Drone footage shows Aleppo brought to the ground

"We have to worry about Isis, before we can get too much more involved" in Syria, Mr Trump said during the second presidential debate. He went on to say: "I don't like Assad at all. But Assad is killing Isis, Russia is killing Isis, and Iran is killing Isis."

Syrian activists from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) fact-checked Mr Trump's position and accused him of being a liar.

Mr Trump recently reaffirmed his position, saying assisting the Syrian government in fighting Isis should be the US' main objective.

“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 on Friday.

Russia and the Syrian regime launched a major offensive against opposition targets on Tuesday, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr Trump discussed Syria in a phone call and agreed to combine efforts in the fight against "international terrorism and extremism". 

Russia's defence ministry said targets in rebel-held northern Idlib province and parts of the central province of Homs were hit by jets from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

Activists reported the resumption of bombing in rebel-held areas of Aleppo for the first time in nearly a month.