Syria's Assad says priority is capturing IS capital Raqqa

Syria's President Bashar Assad tells a Chinese TV station that his military's priority is to reach the Islamic State group's de-facto capital of Raqqa — toward which U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces are also advancing.

The interview with Hong-Kong based Phoenix TV aired Saturday, Assad says another IS stronghold, Deir el-Zour, can be targeted in parallel.

Assad says "in theory" he shares the same priority with U.S. President Donald Trump of fighting terrorism, but that they have had no formal contact yet. He says Russia, a major ally, hopes it can bring the U.S. and Turkey into cooperating with Moscow and Damascus in the fight against terrorism in Syria. Assad's government views all armed opposition as terrorist groups.

Assad says all foreign troops on Syrian soil without invitation or consultation with the Syrian government are considered "invaders."