At least 15 people died in air strikes on the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib on Tuesday, in some of the heaviest raids there in months, residents and a rescue worker said as Syrian President Bashar Al Assad accused UN institutions of acting unfairly towards his country.
Assad also said US President Donald Trump prioritising the fight against radicals by taking on Daish was promising, state news agency Sana reported on Tuesday.
Around eight attacks by what were believed to be Russian jets wounded scores of people and levelled several multi-storey buildings in residential areas of the northwestern city, residents said.
“We are still pulling bodies from the rubble,” Issam al Idlibi, a volunteer civil defence worker, said. Most of the casualties were civilians and the death toll would probably rise, he said.
Russian planes have targeted a number of towns and villages in the area since entering the Syrian conflict in September 2015 to back Assad.
Planes from the US-led coalition have also launched a number of attacks in the rural province, a major stronghold of radicals.
Idlib’s population has been swollen by thousands of Syrian fighters and their families who were evacuated from villages and towns around Damascus and Aleppo city retaken by the government in recent months.
According to an English-language transcript of the interviews published by Syrian state news agency Sana on Tuesday, Assad accused UN institutions of acting unfairly towards his country.
“We all know that the United Nations institutions are not unbiased, they are biased because of the American influence and the French and British, mainly,” he said.
“They are only politicised to implement the agenda of those countries,” he added.
Assad said that ‘defending’ his country in a time of war was more important than any international tribunal that may be brought against his government later.
Asked whether he was concerned about a potential court case brought against the government at the UN’s highest court in The Hague, Assad said he and other Syrian officials “don’t care”.
“For me, as president, when I do my duty, the same for the government and for the army, to defend our country, we don’t look to this issue, we don’t care about it,” he said.
“We have to defend our country by every mean, and when we have to defend it by every means, we don’t care about this court, or any other international institution,” Assad added.
Trump has indicated he might cut US support for Syrian rebels and might help Syria in the fight against Daish.
Trump has made defeating Daish a core goal of his presidency and signed an executive order asking the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff and other agencies to submit a preliminary plan on how to proceed within 30 days.