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Syria's Assad Says Trump Could Be 'Natural Ally' In Battle Against Islamists

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump could become a "natural ally" in the war against Islamic militants.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he will "wait and see" whether U.S. President-elect Donald Trump changes U.S. policies on Syria, but he is ready to work with him to fight militants.

In his first comments on Trump's election, Assad said on November 15 that the Republican leader made "promising" statements about the need to battle Islamists in Syria rather than the regime, but "can he deliver?"

"What about the countervailing forces within the administration?" Assad told Portuguese television, noting that rival "lobbies and powers" within the administration might influence Trump to maintain a hostile stance toward Syria.

Trump has suggested he would change the U.S. strategy of backing some insurgents fighting Assad in the five-year civil war. He has questioned the wisdom of backing rebels, questioned the U.S. goal of getting Assad to leave power, and said that, while he doesn't like Assad, the strongman "is killing" the Islamic State along with Russia.

Assad said he is "dubious" about Trump. "We are very cautious in judging him," he said, "but...if he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be [an] ally, [a] natural ally" with Trump.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP