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Insight, analysis and expert debate as key policy makers are challenged on the latest news stories. From BBC Radio 4's Today programme


Today: President Assad interview from Syria

February 10th, 2015

Episode 128 of 1273 episodes

President Bashar Al Assad is at the centre of the catastrophic events that have engulfed Syria. He says he is defending his country, and its secular ideology, against a brutal insurrection launched by Sunni extremists and led and financed by foreigners. The president's more moderate enemies, who had hopes four years ago for more freedom, say he ordered the Syrian armed forces to crush protests that were originally peaceful. The ferocity of the crackdown, they say, created opportunities for jihadists that are being exploited by Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen visited Mr Assad at the Presidential Palace in Damascus for an exclusive interview