MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Russian media he would only quit power if the Syrian people wanted him to and not under pressure from the West, a transcript of the interview published on Wednesday showed.
“As for the president, he comes to power with the people’s assent through elections, and if he leaves, he leaves if the people demand it, not because of the judgment of the United States, the U.N. Security Council, the Geneva Conference or the Geneva Communique,” said Assad.
“If the people want him to stay the president stays. In the opposite case, he should swiftly step down.”
The help of Iran, which had supplied military technology, had been crucial in fighting against terrorism in Syria, he said. But Tehran had not sent military units to Damascus, he added.
The U.S.-led coalition had not been able to prevent the spread of Islamic state militants so far, he noted.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Andrew Osborn