Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, September 17, 2013)

Syria – Jihadists

1/ There’s a moderate opposition that’s in the majority, and it’s this opposition that we support.

2/ But we’re also aware of the presence of terrorists in Syria. Like the moderate opposition, we’re doing everything we can to combat them:

- the Free Syrian Army, which we support, is fighting against terrorist groups on the ground every day. It’s this army that’s the real defense against terrorism, not the regime. The recent fighting in the Christian city of Maaloula still reflects this: The Free Syrian Army went into the city in order to chase out the Islamists who were threatening the Christian population and churches. At the same time, the regime was bombing the city;

-  for our part, we supported the UN sanctions against the Al Nusra Front and its leader and secured its classification as a terrorist organization.

3/ It’s the regime that is primarily responsible for the development of terrorism in Syria.

- the Syrian regime has been providing financial, logistical and operational support to regional terrorist groups such as Hamas and the military branch of Hezbollah for decades. It has contributed to the strengthening of Al Qaeda for years, by allowing Jihadists to pass through the country to Iraq;

- while he was holding several thousands of innocent civilians in detention, Bashar al-Assad released, in 2011 and 2012, radical Islamists who were being detained in his prisons in order to weaken the moderate opposition and discredit it;

- since the start of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad has labeled the opponents as terrorists, which is not the case. He has deliberately created conditions that favor radicalization by using military force to respond to peaceful demonstrations. It’s the chaos and desperation brought about by the crackdown that are fueling the terrorism and extremism in Syria, as elsewhere.