Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview that President Trump’s travel ban is “not against the Syrian people,” rather it is meant to prevent terrorists from entering Western countries.
"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 a radio interview, Reuters reported.
Lawmakers have accused the Assad government of war crimes and even genocide as the number of people killed during the violence in Syria continues to mount.
The war, now in its sixth year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people, contributed to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II and given the Islamic State group room to grow into a global terror threat.
Trump has said Assad may be "bad" but the rebels fighting to topple him "could be worse." He has said the U.S. has no idea who its allies in the country are and has appeared most concerned about containing the exodus of Syrian refugees, fearing they'll spread terrorism.
Assad had previously suggested the U.S. and Syria could be "natural allies."
Trump’s ban, in the meantime, has faced fierce legal challenges.
A lawsuit by Washington state and Minnesota will proceed as an appellate court considers a preliminary injunction in the case, a federal court ruled on Monday.
The Justice Department had wanted to put the case on hold while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether a larger, 11-judge panel will review a government request to allow the ban.
But U.S. District Judge James Robart, who previously issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban, said the lawsuit can go forward. The states said that process wouldn't interfere with review by appellate courts.
Robart directed both sides to prepare for their arguments on whether Trump's travel ban should be permanently blocked.
A three-judge federal appeals court panel last week refused to toss out the injunction and reinstate the travel ban. The panel unanimously rejected the administration's claim of presidential authority in the matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report