In an interview to French media, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defended the bombing of rebel-held eastern Aleppo, adding that his government is ready to negotiate on “everything” in the peace talks scheduled in Kazakhstan later this month. Admitting that it was “painful” to see Syrians dying, Assad reasserted the importance of liberating civilians from the clutches of armed rebels.
The Syrian government drew sharp criticism for bombing civilian-packed Aleppo in the last few days of the campaign, with the U.N. warning that the bombardment may amount to war crimes, reports the BBC.
Thierry Mariani, one of the French lawmakers who is visiting Syria, said that Assad would “condemn” and “regret” some of the “mistakes on the part of the government,” writes Al Jazeera. A fragile ceasefire, brokered by Turkey and Russia, is currently holding across Syria despite allegations of violations from the warring sides.