Assad says Britain wants to arm terrorists in Syria

LONDON (AFP) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the British government of wanting to arm "terrorists" in his country, in a rare interview with a UK newspaper.

"How can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists and don't try to ease the dialogue between the Syrians?" Mr Assad told The Sunday Times in a video-taped interview.

Britain has been pushing for the lifting of a European ban on arms supplies to Syrian rebels but at a meeting last month, European Union foreign ministers decided instead to allow only "non-lethal" aid and "technical assistance" to flow to the Syria's opposition.

Mr Assad added that "Britain has played a famously unconstructive role in different issues for decades, some say for centuries - I'm telling you the perception in our region.

"The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlights this tradition of a bullying hegemony."

The British government is currently bound by an EU arms embargo, which European foreign ministers decided not to lift.