BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview released Friday that the United States is welcome to join the battle against “terrorists” in Syria – as long as it is in cooperation with his government and respects the country’s sovereignty.

Speaking with Yahoo News, Assad said he has not had any communication – direct or indirect – with President Trump or any official from the U.S. administration.

But the Syrian leader appeared to make a gesture to the new president in the interview, saying he welcomes Trump’s declaration that he will make it a priority to fight terrorism – a goal Assad said he also shares.

However, Assad’s government has labeled all armed opposition to his rule – including the U.S.-backed rebels – as “terrorists.”

“We agree about this priority,” Assad said of Trump. “That’s our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism.”

Syria’s six-year civil war has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced half the country’s population.

The chaos has enabled the rise of the Islamic State, which in a 2014 blitz seized a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Assad’s comment ignored the U.S.-led international coalition, which has been targeting the Islamic State and al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria with airstrikes since September 2014. The U.S. also has advisers in Syria along with predominantly Kurdish fighters.