Europe

Syrian President Assad says Aleppo bombardment was justified

  • FILE -- In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 photo released by the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria. In remarks, given to French press, that were carried by Syrian state media on Monday. Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, Assad said his military was justified in the lethal bombardment of eastern Aleppo, which his troops recaptured from opposition forces three weeks ago. Assad says the alternative would have been to leave the civilians in the once contested city to the mercy of “terrorists,” a term the government uses to describe all those opposed to its rule. (Syrian Presidency via AP, File)

    FILE -- In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 photo released by the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria. In remarks, given to French press, that were carried by Syrian state media on Monday. Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, Assad said his military was justified in the lethal bombardment of eastern Aleppo, which his troops recaptured from opposition forces three weeks ago. Assad says the alternative would have been to leave the civilians in the once contested city to the mercy of “terrorists,” a term the government uses to describe all those opposed to its rule. (Syrian Presidency via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks with French journalists in Damascus, Syria. Assad said in remarks published on Monday that he was prepared "to negotiate everything" at talks set to begin in later this month in Kazakhstan, seeking to cast himself as a peacemaker after his forces' recapture of Aleppo last month. Assad also defended his troops' deadly bombardment of eastern Aleppo. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks with French journalists in Damascus, Syria. Assad said in remarks published on Monday that he was prepared "to negotiate everything" at talks set to begin in later this month in Kazakhstan, seeking to cast himself as a peacemaker after his forces' recapture of Aleppo last month. Assad also defended his troops' deadly bombardment of eastern Aleppo. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks with French journalists in Damascus, Syria. Assad said in remarks published on Monday that he was prepared "to negotiate everything" at talks set to begin in later this month in Kazakhstan, seeking to cast himself as a peacemaker after his forces' recapture of Aleppo last month. Assad also defended his troops' deadly bombardment of eastern Aleppo. (SANA via AP))

    In this photo released Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks with French journalists in Damascus, Syria. Assad said in remarks published on Monday that he was prepared "to negotiate everything" at talks set to begin in later this month in Kazakhstan, seeking to cast himself as a peacemaker after his forces' recapture of Aleppo last month. Assad also defended his troops' deadly bombardment of eastern Aleppo. (SANA via AP))  (The Associated Press)

Syrian President Bashar Assad says his military was justified in the lethal bombardment of eastern Aleppo, which his troops recaptured from opposition forces three weeks ago.

Assad says the alternative would have been to leave the civilians in the once contested city to the mercy of "terrorists," a term the government uses to describe all those opposed to its rule. The remarks, given to French press, were carried by Syrian state media on Monday.

Once Syria's largest city and industrial hub, Aleppo has been devastated by nearly six years of war. Rebels took control of its eastern districts in 2012, before surrendering it to government authority last month.

The U.N. said the government's relentless military campaign, which displaced tens of thousands of civilians, could have violated the laws of war.