Shaaban, who often speaks for Assad, said there was no question in his mind that “our land should be totally and completely liberated from foreign occupiers, whether they are terrorists, or the Turks or the Americans.”
Her words came as Syrian government forces pressed ahead with an operation in northwestern Syria to take back the country’s last rebel stronghold, having in recent years gained the upper hand in the civil war.
The war has raged for more than eight years, involving neighbors and superpowers, including Turkey, Iran, the U.S. and Russia, as well as their proxies.
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The secretary general was also alarmed by reports of attacks on evacuation routes as civilians try to flee north to safety, she said. Meanwhile, winter has exacerbated the vulnerability of the people who urgently need shelter and food among other basic amenities, the U.N. added.
Fears are growing for the fate of civilians caught in Idlib.
Shaaban said in the interview that the war had been "imposed" on Syria.
"The war was against Syria, it was not against the president, it was against the country and against the people," she said.
Conflict in Syria broke out after an Arab Spring-inspired uprising that began as a peaceful protest in 2011 escalated into an armed rebellion following a brutal government crackdown. The Islamic State militant group was able to exploit the chaos to seize up to a third of the country at one point. Today, it has lost its caliphate although the extremists' threat has not gone away.
During years of war, more than a third of Syria’s infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged, according to the International Crisis Group. The conflict has displaced half of the population and left an estimated 11.7 million people inside the country in need of humanitarian assistance, it added.
Meanwhile, the question of what to do with suspected members of ISIS imprisoned in camps in northern Syria has yet to be resolved. Shaabaan said it was “likely” that those prisoners held by the Kurds would face trial in Syria.
European countries, including Britain, have stripped ISIS fighters of their nationalities to prevent their return.
With ISIS defeated and Idlib the last rebel stronghold, Syria is now looking at how it can rebuild.
Shaaban said that only countries that supported Damascus during the war would be allowed to help rebuild the country.
“China is a big candidate ... China has the money and the expertise and the friendship with us. And so has Russia," she said.
Several Western nations have already said they would not be involved in rebuilding the war-shattered country.
Last year, Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the idea that America would help "rebuild Syria" for Assad and Russian supporters was "absurd."