At least 76 killed after government forces attack areas around Damascus in response to shelling of capital.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said third parties, including Iraq, were conveying information to Damascus about a US-led campaign of air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in his country.
In an interview with the BBC, broadcast on Tuesday, Assad said there was no direct cooperation with the US, whose air force has been bombing ISIL in Syria since September.
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 message[s], general message[s], but there is nothing tactical”.
Assad said the Syrian government had known about the US-led campaign before it started but did not have details.
Asked if there was ongoing dialogue via third parties, he said: “There is no dialogue. There is, let’s say, information, but not dialogue”.
Assad also denied that the army was using makeshift bombs – crude barrels packed with explosives and shrapnel that are generally dropped by helicopter.
Barrel bombings denied
“I haven’t heard of [the] army using barrels, or maybe cooking pots,” he said, laughing.
“We have bombs, missiles and bullets,” he added, dismissing claims that his forces were using indiscriminate weapons.
“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,” he said.
He also denied accusations that Syria’s government had used chemical weapons against its own people in August 2013, in an attack outside Damascus that killed up to 1,400 people.
“Who verified who threw that gas on who?” he said.
Asked if his government was responsible, he said “definitely not”, adding that the reported death toll was “exaggerated”.
He also said his forces were “definitely not” using chlorine as a weapon.