Syrian President Bashar Assad suggested Saturday that French support for opposition forces in his country’s civil war led to Friday’s attacks in Paris.
In comments published by Syria’s official news agency, SANA, the embattled leader called on Western states to stop aiding “terrorists,” a term used by Syria’s government for all insurgent groups. France backs Syrian rebel groups and has been a particularly vocal opponent of Assad during the nearly five-year-old conflict.
“Wrong [policies] adopted by Western states, particularly France, toward events in the region, and its ignorance of the support of a number of its allies to terrorists are reasons behind the expansion of terrorism,” said Assad, who delivered the comments during a meeting with a visiting French delegation.
The comments reflect an apparent desire by Assad to rally international support for his government against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
France is part of a U.S.-led coalition that is targeting ISIL with airstrikes at its strongholds in eastern Syria and northern Iraq.