BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad has blamed Europe's refugee crisis on Western support for "terrorists," as people fleeing his country's civil war stream towards the European Union.
In his first public comments on the mass migration, broadcast on Wednesday, Assad said Europe could expect more refugees.Countries including the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia want to see Assad gone from power and have supported the opposition to his rule during the four-year-old war, including some of the armed groups fighting him.
Assad said Turkish support had been crucial to the growth of two of the biggest insurgent groups in Syria, Islamic State and the al- Qaida-linked Nusra Front, and aerial bombing by a US-led coalition had failed to stop Islamic State. Turkey denies the accusation.
The Syrian president dismissed Western suggestions that his government's actions in the war had fuelled the spread of such groups.
"As long as they follow this propaganda, they will have more refugees," Assad said in an interview with Russian media. "If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists."