syria’s President Bashar al-Assad says his government is receiving messages from the US-
led coalition battling the jihadist group, Islamic State.
Mr Assad told the BBC that there had been no direct co-operation since air strikes began
in Syria in September.
But third parties – among them Iraq – were conveying “information”.
He also denied that Syrian government forces had been dropping barrel bombs
indiscriminately on rebel-held areas, killing thousands of civilians.
Mr Assad dismissed the allegation as a “childish story”, in a wide-ranging interview with
BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in Damascus.
“We have bombs, missiles and bullets… There is [are] no barrel bombs, we don’t have
Our correspondent says that his denial is highly controversial as the deaths of civilians in
barrel bomb attacks are well-documented.
Mr Assad’s many enemies will dismiss his view of the war.
For them, he has been in charge of a killing machine that has been chewing Syrians up
and spitting them out.
As the war enters its fifth year, the barrel bomb has become the most notorious weapon in
the regime’s arsenal.
Two or three years ago, I saw the results of what must have been one in Douma, a suburb
of Damascus that has been held by rebels since close to the beginning of the war.
Mr Assad insisted that the Syrian army would never use them in a place where people
“I know about the army. They use bullets, missiles and bombs. I haven’t heard of the
army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots.”
It was a flippant response; the mention of cooking pots was either callousness, an
awkward attempt at humour, or a sign that Mr Assad has become so disconnected from
what is happening that he feels overwhelmed.