BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a visiting group of European parliamentarians on Sunday that western governments' support for opposition groups in Syria caused terrorism in Europe.
"The problems Europe faces today of terrorism, extremism and waves of refugees are caused by some western leaders' adoption of policies which do not serve their people," Assad told a delegation of members of the European Parliament headed by Javier Couso, vice chairman of its foreign affairs committee.
"Especially when those leaders give support and political cover to terrorist groups inside Syria," Syrian state news agency SANA said in a summary of Assad's comments.
The Syrian government, supported by Iran and Russia, refers to all groups fighting it in the five-year-old conflict as terrorists. Of such groups, the U.N. classifies only Islamic State and the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front as terrorist.
A range of countries provide financial, logistical and training support to the many armed opposition groups in Syria, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United States and the United Kingdom.
- All of these celebrities have had their nudes leaked 35 Pictures
- Here's what it's like to fish for your dinner at Zauo NYC (photos) 21 Pictures
- PHOTOS: The best cosplay of NYCC 2018, Day 3 44 Pictures
- A look back at Heidi Klum's best Halloween costumes 19 Pictures
- PHOTOS: Nightmare Machine, the haunted house for millennials 14 Pictures
- American Music Awards 2018: Red carpet looks, list of winners 23 Pictures
- Who is Alexander Edwards, Amber Rose's new boyfriend? 9 Pictures
- Are Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian getting back together? 8 Pictures
- Anne Frank's Diary now comes as a graphic novel 3 Pictures
- Reimagine End of Life celebrates all things death and dying 5 Pictures
- 2018 Emmy Awards: List of winners, red carpet looks 29 Pictures
Western and Gulf Arab countries which want Assad out of power blame him for the displacement of tens of thousands of Syrians, through air strikes on rebel-held areas that have killed thousands.
Opposition groups accuse the government of deliberately targeting civilians and breaching ceasefires. United Nations-brokered peace talks broke down in late April as violence escalated, without a set date to resume.
(Reporting by Lisa Barrington in Beirut and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman; editing by Andrew Roche)