CAIRO – Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Monday that any group backed by the United States was guilty of treason, implicating the Kurdish-led militia alliance that was a key ally of Washington in the war against the Islamic State jihadist group.
Assad did not accuse the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) directly, but said he refused to consider the victory against IS as the end of the war in Syria.
“Anyone who works for the interests of foreigners, especially now under the American leadership ... against their army and their people is simply a traitor, whatever their name,” Assad said in a video posted online by Russian state news agency Sputnik.
The SDF’s Kurdish-Arab alliance controls nearly a quarter of Syria’s territory following a difficult offensive against IS with US air support.
“Saying that the war is over is not realistic. We are still in a state of war,” the Syrian leader said.
Assad’s remarks followed a meeting with a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was accompanied by the heads of several leading Russian companies.
Rogozin offered to help rebuild Syria once the war ended, with emphasis on the energy, petrochemical and transportation industries, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.
Assad said that the continued victories against terrorism had provided the necessary conditions to accelerate and strengthen Syria’s reconstruction.
The Syrian president said it was natural for Russia to play an important role in the reconstruction process, based on the positions Moscow adopted toward Syria and its people, referring to the military support the Russian government gave Damascus.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Syria, his first since the beginning of the conflict, and used the opportunity to announce the beginning of the withdrawal of Russian troops.
In 2015, Russia began its military intervention in Syria in support of forces loyal to the government, a move that helped to change the course of the war in Assad’s favor.