Assad says U.S.-led strikes on Syria ineffective

The coalition said that that the advances of ISIS across Iraq and Syria are being stopped

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said U.S.-led air strikes in Syria have made no difference on the ground and described himself as a captain trying to save his ship, in comments to a French magazine and carried by the presidency’s Twitter feed on Wednesday.

“You can’t end terrorism with aerial strikes,” Assad told Paris Match, according to Reuters news agency.

“Troops on the ground that know the land and can react are essential. That is why there haven’t been any tangible results in the two months of strikes led by the coalition,” he added, according to extracts of the interview published on Paris Match’s website in English.

“It isn’t true that the strikes are helpful. They would of course have helped had they been serious and efficient. We are running the ground battles against Daesh, and we have noticed no change, especially with Turkey providing direct support to these regions.”

“Daesh” is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Damascus has regularly accused Turkey of supporting Islamist insurgent groups like Islamic State in Syria. Ankara denies this.

The Syrian Presidency tweeted extracts of the interview and said the full version would be published on Thursday.

Stopping ISIS

However, the U.S. led coalition said after a meeting in Brussels led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the advances of ISIS across Iraq and Syria are being stopped.

“Participants noted that the global campaign against ISIS/Daesh is beginning to show results. The ISIS/Daesh advance across Syria and into Iraq is being halted,” a coalition statement obtained by AFP said, referring to the group by its alternative names.

The statement said Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by coalition air strikes, “are now reclaiming territory in Iraq”.

The coalition of around 60 mainly Western and Arab nations was formed after the first U.S. air strikes in August against ISIS, which has proclaimed a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

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