Assad says 'defending' Syria more important than UN tribunal

Assad says 'defending' Syria more important than UN tribunal
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that "defending" his country in a time of war was more important than any international tribunal that may be brought against his government.
2 min read
08 February, 2017
The embattled president has fought to maintain power since 2011 [Getty]
"Defending" Syria during a time of war was more important than any international tribunal brought against the government, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad suggested on during interviews with Belgian media on Tuesday.

Assad - who has fought to maintain power since 2011 - accused UN institutions of acting unfairly towards his country, according to a transcript of the interviews later published by Syrian state news agency SANA

"We all know that the United Nations institutions are not unbiased, they are biased because of the American influence and the French and British, mainly," he said.

"They are only politicised to implement the agenda of those countries," he added.

Syria's conflict first broke out in March 2011 with widespread protests that descended into ongoing violence.

Asked whether he was concerned about a potential court case brought against the regime at the UN's highest court in The Hague, Assad said he and other Syrian officials "don't care". 

"For me, as president, when I do my duty, the same for the government and for the army, to defend our country, we don't look to this issue, we don't care about it," he said.

"We have to defend our country by every mean, and when we have to defend it by every mean, we don't care about this court, or any other international institution," Assad added.

In December, the UN General Assembly agreed to begin gathering evidence on war crimes in Syria as a first step towards prosecuting those responsible for atrocities there.

But Syria's Ambassador Bashar Jafaari slammed the measure at the time, calling it a "flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a UN member-state."

His comments to Belgian media came as rights watchdog Amnesty International accused the regime of hanging 13,000 at an infamous prison near Damascus.

Titled "Human Slaughterhouse: Mass hanging and extermination at Saydnaya prison," Amnesty's damning report is based on interviews with 84 witnesses, including guards, detainees, and judges.

It found that at least once a week between 2011 and 2015, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells for arbitrary trials, beaten, then hanged "in the middle of the night and in total secrecy."

Most of the victims were civilians believed to be opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 310,000 people have been killed and millions have fled their homes since the conflict began with anti-Assad protests.