[Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said President Donald Trump's ban
on Syrians entering the United States targeted terrorists, not the
Syrian people, appearing to defend the logic of the measure in an
interview broadcast on Thursday.]

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-assad-usa-idUSKBN15V0N2

WORLD NEWS | Thu Feb 16, 2017 | 3:51am EST
Assad says Trump travel ban targets terrorists, not Syria's people

***Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said President Donald Trump's ban
on Syrians entering the United States targeted terrorists, not the
Syrian people, appearing to defend the logic of the measure in an
interview broadcast on Thursday.*** [Emphasis added.]

Trump last month issued an executive order, since suspended by a U.S.
district judge, that temporarily barred travelers from seven mostly
Muslim countries including Syria, as well as imposing an indefinite
ban on all Syrian refugees.

"It's against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the
immigrants to the West. And that happened. It happened in Europe,
mainly in Germany," Assad said in the interview with Europe 1 radio
and TF1 television which was recorded on Tuesday in English.

"I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming." It
was "not against the Syrian people", he said.

Trump said his order, which triggered protests at home and abroad and
confusion at U.S. and international airports, was intended to prevent
militants from entering the United States. His administration is
challenging the suspension ruling, which was upheld last week by
appeal court judges.

Assad's government has often criticized Western states for their
support for Syrian rebel groups, all of which are regarded by Damascus
as terrorists, and has warned that such backing will lead to militant
attacks around the world.

Trump has not yet set out a clear policy on Syria but has indicated he
could cut U.S. support for insurgent groups and has said he wants to
mend ties with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin is Assad's
strongest international ally.


(Reporting By Angus McDowall; editing by John Stonestreet)


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