Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said that Europe's support of terrorists, rather than the civil war raging in his country, was the reason for the ongoing refugee crisis on the continent.
In a televised interview with Russian media on 19 September, the president said that Europe's lack of action over Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria was the root cause of refugees fleeing the country.
"So as long as they follow this propaganda, they [the West] will have more refugees. So it is not about Europe did not accept them, or invite them as refugees, it is about not dealing with the cause. If you are worried about them stop supporting terrorists. That's what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees," he said.
"Europe is bearing the responsibility, as it has supported and continues to support and to cover up terrorism. It calls terrorists 'moderate' and divides them into groups. But they are all extremists," added Assad.
The US-led coalition had not been able to prevent the spread of IS militants so far, he noted. "We do not see this [real wish to fight terrorism] when we talk about so called antiterrorist coalition and the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition. The reality is that despite the coalition starting its operation, Islamic State continues its expansion. They cannot do anything. This coalition does not affect the situation on the ground," he said.
Assad's interview with Russian media was published after Russian president Vladimir Putin defended sending military equipment and personnel to support the regime in Syria. Moscow has come under increased international pressure in recent days to explain its moves in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting Assad in a four-and-a-year civil war.
Last week British prime minister David Cameron declared that "hard military force" was needed to rid the despot and the jihadists from the Middle Eastern state.