In an interview with Russia Today, Syrian President Bashar al Assad said the United States is losing in Syria and that a conflict with U.S. troops could result if they refuse to leave the country.
"The United States is losing its cards. The main card was Al-Nusra, that was called 'moderate,' but when scandals started leaking that they're not moderate, that they're Al-Qaeda, which is supposed to be fought by the United States, they started looking for another card. This card is the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) now," al Assad said.
Regarding the alleged chemical attacks, he said they were a "lie" spun by the United States to provoke conflict: "They told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn't buy their story, but they couldn't withdraw it, so they had to do something, even on a smaller scale."
The devastating conflict that has dragged on for seven years is best described not as a "civil war," but rather as "mercenaries, Syrians and foreigners being paid by the West in order to topple the government. This is the mere reality. Everything else is just a mask to cover the real intentions," Assad said.
Assad said that once the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra are defeated, he hopes to be able to negotiate with the SDF, because they are Syrians who "like their country. However, if negotiations fail, the Syrian army will be forced to liberate areas occupied by the SDF, with the Americans or without the Americans."
Assad also said that things had come dangerously close to escalating toward a direct conflict between Russian and U.S. forces in Syria, which he said was "avoided not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership."
Assad believes U.S. President Donald Trump was dissuaded from launching a full-scale attack against Damascus by Russian warnings.
Trump recently called Assad an "animal," but the Syrian president refused to respond in kind: "This is not my language, so I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him. I think there is a very well known principle that what you say is what you are."