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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad describes truce as 'glimmer of hope'

In an interview with German TV, Syria's president has promised "full amnesty" to rebels who gave up their arms. A ceasefire has been in place since the weekend.

President Bashar al-Assad appeared in an interview with German television on Tuesday and spoke in support of the current truce which began Saturday in Syria.

"We will do our part so that the whole thing works," he told German public broadcaster ARD in an interview.

"We have refrained ourselves from retaliating in order to give (a) chance for the agreement to survive," he added. "That's what we can do, but at the end everything has a limit. It depends on the other side."

"The terrorists have breached the deal from the first day. We as the Syrian Army are refraining from responding in order to give a chance to sustain the agreement and that is what we can do. But in the end there are limits and it all depends on the other side," he said.

Syrien Ruinen Homs

Ruined buildings in the city of Homs

'Full amnesty'

The president also offered a "return to civilian life" to opposition fighters who handed in their weapons, in Tuesday's edition of ARD's Weltspiegel Extra program.

"The most important thing for me, legally and constitutionally," he said, was "that you're not allowed, as a citizen, to hold machine guns and hurt people or properties."

"This is the only thing that we ask. We don't ask for anything. As I said, we give them full amnesty," he said.

The ceasefire agreement was drawn up by Russia and the United States to involve nearly a hundred opposition groups. However it excluded the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) and al Qaeda's Nusra Front.

Syrien Hilfskonvoi in Kafr Batna

An aid convoy drives through the rebel held city of Douma towards the town of Kafr Batna

Humanitarian disaster

Al-Assad also said people living in Syria were suffering from a "humanitarian disaster." He denied that his forces were cutting off food and medical supplies from rebel-held areas.

"How could we prevent them from having food while we cannot prevent them from having armaments?" he argued.

Syrian refugees in Germany

The president welcomed Germany's help in taking in Syrian refugees but questioned if it would not be "smarter and less expensive" to help them to live in their own country.

jm/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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