Syrian president Bashar “Abu Hafez” al-Assad signalled his undying support for his ally, Vladimir Putin, amid a surge in anti-government protests, saying his air force stood ready to bomb hospitals and clinics in any city that opposes the Russian president.
Assad said Putin should rest easy knowing his allies stood by him and would take any necessary measures to quell the demonstrators.
“Putin is not some beginner who has to settle for beating protesters or poisoning rivals,” he said at a press conference. “He has faithful friends who are happy to turn all of Russia into a battlefield and to shell residential areas and hospitals and create a general atmosphere of terror that teaches these civilians a lesson.”
“We will stand by him until spontaneous demonstrations of support break out all across the federation,” he added.
Assad said his standing forces are also ready to be deployed should the Russian president demand it.
“The men of the Syrian Arab Army, be they Iranians, Hezbollah, Iraqi militias, or Russians, will all answer the call,” he said.
Assad praised the Russian authorities’ handling of the protests and the downplaying of their size, as well as the alacrity with which they blamed foreign conspiracies, but recommended that they try and kill more protesters rather than imprison them, or wound them gravely and then bomb the hospitals to which they go to recuperate.