1. ITV Report

Assad: Syria told of US-led airstrikes against IS

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: PA

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claims third parties, including Iraq, are conveying information to his government about US-led air strikes against Islamic State.

Mr Assad also said there had been no direct co-operation with the United States since air strikes began in Syria in September. However, certain third parties were conveying "information".

Asked if there was indirect cooperation, he said: "That's true, through third parties, more than one party, Iraq and other countries, sometimes they convey messages, general messages, but there is nothing tactical."

He then denied to the BBC 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".

We have bombs, missiles and bullets... There is are no barrel bombs, we don't have barrels. I know about the army. They use bullets, missiles and bombs. I haven't heard of the army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots.

– Bashar al-Assad

He added: "There are no indiscriminate weapons. When you shoot you aim, and when you shoot, when you aim, you aim at terrorists in order to protect civilians ... You cannot have war without casualties."

In the Interview with the BBC, Mr Assad also dismissed Western plans to support and train "moderate opposition" forces in Syria as a "pipe dream", insisting that the opponents of his regime were all extremists like IS and al Qaida and its affiliates.

"They are the same grassroots," he said.

He flatly ruled out direct talks with the Americans, saying they would not talk to anyone "unless he's a puppet".

"They easily trample over international law, which is about our sovereignty now, so they don't talk to us, we don't talk to them," he said.