Speaking to Yahoo News from his office in Damascus, President Assad said some of those who fled his country were ‘definitely aligned with terrorists’.
He told Yahoo: ‘Those terrorists in Syria, holding the machine gun or killing people, they [appear as] peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West.’
The President said he ‘could not estimate numbers’ but added ‘you don’t need a significant number to commit atrocities’, referencing the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks in the US.
On bringing the refugees home, he added: ‘For me, the priority is to bring those citizens to their country, not to help them immigrate.’
President Assad also said he would ‘not take sides’ on Donald Trump’s ban on admitting refugees from his country.
Mr Assad added he could not estimate the number of ‘terrorists’ among the refugees but said ‘you don’t need a significant number to commit atrocities’ (file picture)
Meanwhile, Mrs May defended a cap on allowing unaccompanied child refugees into the UK after it was revealed the Government would only accept 350.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mrs May insisted the Government’s approach was ‘absolutely right’, pointing to separate schemes which will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the region over five years as well as reuniting migrant children with families in the UK.
‘We have been seeing quite a number of children and families being resettled here in the United Kingdom,’ said the Prime Minister.
‘I think what we are doing in terms of refugees is absolutely right, on top of course of the significant financial support and humanitarian aid we are giving to refugees in the region of Syria – a commitment of £2.3 billion, the second biggest bilateral donor.’
It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticised over a cap on the number of unaccompanied child refugees being admitted to Britain. Pictured are some of the children who arrived in Britain late last year
The decision to impose a cap was announced on Wednesday by immigration minister Robert Goodwill, who said 200 children had already arrived and councils had indicated they had capacity for only 150 more.
But the Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the decision and said he had believed ministers were ‘committed to welcoming up to 3,000 children under this scheme’ and it was ‘regrettable’ that such a small proportion were being given sanctuary.
‘I fear that this week’s decision does not meet the spirit of commitment that was given during the passage of the Immigration Act last year,’ he said.
‘I very much hope that the Government will reconsider this decision, and work with church groups and others to find a sustainable and compassionate solution that allows those most in need to find sanctuary in our country.’