Syrian President Bashar al-Assad .jpg
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Photograph: EPA/SANA HANDOUT

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected allegations his government or its Russian allies were deliberately targeting hospitals in besieged areas, he said in an interview aired Thursday.

"To say that this is our aim as a government, [that] we give the orders to destroy hospitals or schools or to kill civilians, this is against our interests," al-Assad told Danish broadcaster TV2.

"The question that you should ask when you have a crime: who is the beneficiary of that crime? What would they get, I mean for the Russians or the Syrians, if they attack a school or if they attack [a] hospital? What would they get if they attack a hospital? Nothing, they wouldn't get anything," he said.

Opposition activists and international aid agencies have reported numerous airstrikes on hospitals and other sites in the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria.

In the interview recorded Wednesday in the Syrian capital of Damascus - and transcribed by the Syrian state news agency SANA -  al-Assad said "pictures cannot tell you the story, even videos, everything could be manipulated these days."

Al-Assad added that mistakes were made and that individuals were punished.

He said the Syrian government planned to "continue the fight with the rebels till they leave Aleppo. They have to. There's no other option. We won't accept that terrorists will take control of any part of Syria, not only Aleppo. This is our mission, and this is our goal, and this is our next step."

Al-Assad said Denmark and other European countries in the US-led coalition fighting Syria "implement and fulfill what the Americans want in every field without asking and without discussing."

Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen reacted angrily, telling TV2: "The proof is clear. It is documented [al-Assad] has bombed his own people, he has used chemical weapons against his own people."

"If you look at what's going on in Aleppo, where hospitals are bombed and civilians are targeted, water supplies are hit ... it is hard to label what Syria and their Russian allies are doing as anything other than war crimes," the Danish foreign minister said.

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