'Bombing hospitals is a war crime,' Syria's Assad says

Bashar al-Assad admitted that intentional airstrikes on hospitals or schools would constitute a war crime but insisted it was not the in the interests of the Syrian government to do so.

In an interview with Denmark's TV2, the Syrian president said that facilities caring for civilians and children would have "immunity".

But he said that there are no facts to suggest that the Syria or its Russian allies targeted civilians and said it would be like "shooting ourselves in the foot".

He said the Western media "singled out" pictures of children that "suit their political agenda, just to accuse the Syrian government."

"In every war there are victims, there are innocent victims and that's why every war is a bad war," he said.

Correspondent Rasmus Tantholdt asked: "Do you then agree that whoever attacks hospitals, they are guilty of war crimes?"

The president answered: "Of course, by international law it is. I mean, hospitals have immunity. And any government shouldn't do it, of course I agree with you."

The intense bombardment of Aleppo during an army offensive that began two weeks ago has included several strikes on hospitals, residents and medical workers there have said.

But Assad denied any knowledge of such attacks, saying that there were only "allegations".

"As a government, we don't have a policy to destroy hospitals or schools or any such facility... It is against our interests, it would be like shooting ourselves in the foot," he added.

"If there's such attack from the army, it could be by mistake but we don't have any information that [such a] thing has happened, all that we have is allegations and only in the Western media, not from Syria."

Assad said that the Syrian government would continue fighting rebels in Aleppo. Credit: Reuters

The president vowed to recapture all of Syria and said he would prefer to do so using local deals and amnesties allowing rebels to leave for other areas.

"[We will] continue the fight with the rebels in Aleppo, [we] have to, there is no other options," he said.

"We won't accept that terrorists will take control of any part of Syria."

He said that there were no "moderate rebels" and that the US were using the Nusra Front, which broke its allegiance to al Qaeda, as a "card" in Syria's war.

The US classified Nusra Front as a terrorist organisation and repeatedly warned other rebel groups not to work with it.

Washington blamed the collapse of last month's truce on the Syrian government and Russia.

But Assad said that the US did not have the "will" to reach a peace agreement that involved airstrikes against Nusra Front, now called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, because the group was its only "concrete and effective card in the Syrian arena".