Syrian President: Trump could be a ‘natural ally’

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad says U.S. President-elect Donald Trump could be a “natural ally” to the Damascus government in its grinding civil war.

In an interview published Tuesday with the Portuguese RTP news agency, Assad said his government would need to see if the incoming administration is “genuine” about fighting “terrorists” in Syria.

International observers say Syrian and allied Russian forces regularly strike hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas, against international law. Assad maintains he is fighting terrorism.

In the run-up to last week’s presidential election, Trump said he was ready to work with Assad to fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

More than 300,000 people have been killed in the 5-1/2 year-long Syrian civil war.