Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said issues of chemical attacks in his country were fabrication used by the US as a pretext to carry out an attack against the Arab army.
"The story with chemical weapons is a pretext for a direct military intervention and attacks on the Syrian army," Assad said in an interview with Russian television channel NTV on Sunday, adding, "We fully eliminated chemical weapons. We haven’t had them in Syria since 2013."
The Syrian government surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.
Washington and its allies have often pointed the finger at the Syrian government over chemical attacks. Damascus has consistently denied the claim.
"These provocations have nothing to do with reality. This is the result of their own imagination, and that of the media, and something ... invented by their mass media is further disseminated across the world through the Internet and other media. That’s why it is impossible to prevent this provocation. Americans constantly lie and attack immediately," the Syrian president stated.
"When there is no respect for international rules, when there are no efficient UN bodies, you may not speak about preventing provocations and the world lives upon the jungle law," he said.
In June, the Russian Defense Ministry said US Special Forces were aiding militants to engage in “chemical attack provocation” via chlorine gas to provoke Western airstrikes against Syrian forces.
Assad also said in the same interview that Syria would not accept any Western money to help rebuild the country.
“We have enough strength to rebuild the country. If we don’t have money, we will borrow from our friends, from Syrians living abroad.”
According to Assad, many European companies plan to earn money on Syria’s post-war reconstruction, which may cost at least $400 bln. “When European countries speak about assistance in Syria’s reconstruction, they think about how to earn money rather than how to help Syria,” he said. “Many European companies contact with us and try to open the door to Syria for their investments”.
War on terrorism not civil war
There is no civil war in Syria, it is a war on mercenaries and terrorists, Assad stressed.
The Syrian President stressed that “There is no civil war in Syria because a civil war stems from inter-religious, ethnic and other conflicts. We don’t have any in Syria. Wherever you go, including to the regions controlled by the government, you will see all the strata of Syria society living side by side peacefully. It is the real state of things”.
“It is not the Syrian people who shoot at each other, it is mercenaries and terrorists,” he stressed.
According to the Syrian president, the conflict has only consolidated Syrian society. Diverse society has become much more consolidated than before the war. "We have learnt the lesson,” he said. “We have consolidated society. We have no problems with consolidation. We can say that Syria is integral as long as its people is consolidated”.
A constitutional reform in Syria depends solely on the choice of the Syrian people, Assad said.
“Any constitutional reform has nothing to do with the government. It is a matter of the Syrian people. If we want any changes, a nationwide referendum is needed. If people support a new constitution in a plebiscite, we will adopt it,” he said, adding that it would happen “not because the United Nations or a foreign state want it,” but only when the Syrian people takes this decision.
Syria’s current constitution was adopted in February 2012 to introduce a multiparty system.
Bashar Al-Assad, who scored 88% of the vote at Syria’s first multi-party elections in June 2014, took the first presidential office under the new constitution, although it was his third consecutive term.
The United States and the European Union refused to recognize those elections as legitimate and democratic.
Syria to be liberated completely
Elsewhere in the interview, Assad said that the Syrian army would regain control of the country’s north by force if militants there refused to surrender.
"We have chosen two paths: the first and most important one is reconciliation... The second path is to attack terrorists if they dont surrender and refuse to make peace," Assad said in the interview. "We will fight with them (militants) and return control by force. It is certainly not the best option for us, but its the only way to get control of the country."
Damascus recently said it rejected the presence of Turkish and US forces around the northern Kurdish town of Manbij. The United States and its allies have been bombarding what they call positions of the ISIS Takfiri terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. The strikes have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism. The Israeli regime, one of the United States top allies, has even set up field hospitals to treat wounded militants evacuated from Syria. Furthermore, the Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of US and Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.