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The Interview

'US, Israel favour status quo in Syria', dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh claims

Yassin al-Haj Saleh is a leading Syrian intellectual and one of the keenest observers of the Assad regime. He was jailed for 16 years under Hafez al-Assad and in 2013, he was forced into exile by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while his wife and brother were kidnapped and are still missing. Several of his articles, written between 2011 and 2015, have now been published in a book in French entitled "The Syrian question".

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Yassin al-Haj Saleh claims that the Syrian opposition was about to take Damascus in 2013 but was pressured by the US and the Saudis not to do so.

He calls the US-Russia deal struck over Syria's chemical weapons in 2013 "a big betrayal of the Syrian people".

Finally, he accuses the US and Israel of favouring the status quo in Syria. "The Americans and the Israelis either want Bashar al-Assad to stay in power, or to engineer things in a way that they take him out just to save everything else".

"Everything will stay as it was before, only maybe Bashar al-Assad [will go] with his millions to Panama or Switzerland or I don’t know where to enjoy the rest of his life", he told FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman.

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