Syria's Assad Blasts the U.S. for Backing 'Traitors,' Says Open to Deal With Nusra Front

The U.S. has given military support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias which now controls nearly a quarter of Syria

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, 2nd left, President Vladimir Putin, 4th left, and Syrian President Bashar Assad, 3rd right, pose for a photo with Russian military pilots at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday described U.S.-backed militias in eastern Syria as "traitors", his office said in an online statement.

Assad said he also welcomed a United Nations role in Syrian elections as long as it was linked with Syria's sovereignty, it cited him as saying in a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in Syria's Hmeimim base.

A U.S.-led international coalition against Islamic State has given military support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias which now controls nearly a quarter of Syria.

Assad has previously vowed to take back all of Syria.

Rogozin was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as saying after the meeting with Assad that Russia would be the only country to take part in rebuilding Syrian energy facilities.

The Syrian authorities are open to the Nusra Front, a group the U.S. and UN designate as a terrorist organization, evacuating Eastern Ghouta in a bid to avoid bloodshed but will fight them if they have to, a government spokesman said on Monday.

The Syrian Minister of Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, told media at a briefing that the rebel group has made no decision about leaving the area, and that the situation was complicated by different groups being involved in the fighting. Eastern Ghouta is the nearest rebel-held enclave of Syria to capital Damascus, and has been under siege from government forces for weeks.

Sheikh Youssef Askar, the Head of Reconciliation Committees in Damascus Suburbs, told media he was expecting "good news" soon.

Meanwhile, footage uploaded to social media websites on Sunday showed what was said to be Russian warplanes carrying out bombing raids over the town of Latamneh in Hama province.