World

In interview, Syrian president dismisses negotiations with 'puppets' as Moscow talks to begin

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow. (AP Photo/SANA)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow. (AP Photo/SANA)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow. (AP Photo/SANA)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow. (AP Photo/SANA)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow. (AP Photo/SANA)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow. (AP Photo/SANA)  (The Associated Press)

Syrian President Bashar Assad has dismissed negotiations with "puppets" in an interview with a U.S. magazine ahead of talks set to begin in Moscow.

In the Foreign Affairs interview, published online Monday, Assad questioned if any dialogue with Syria's Western-backed opposition figures would be fruitful, saying that even armed groups don't see them as true representatives.

Assad described the figures as "puppets" that were "paid from the outside."

Four days of negotiations brokered by Russia are set to begin Monday in Moscow. The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has said it won't attend, though some opposition representatives are expected to participate.

Syria's civil war began as popular protests against Assad's rule some four years ago. The conflict has now killed over 220,000 people.