Asked by interviewer Charlie Rose why his secular regime was supporting the Islamist movements he said, "This is one of the things that they don't understand in the West. If I support you, that doesn't mean I'm like you or I agree with you. That means I believe in your cause. There's a difference.
"We support the Palestinian cause, and Hamas is working for that cause. Hezbollah is working for the Lebanese cause, so we support that cause, not Hezbollah."
When asked whether Syria was supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles Assad said, "This is very good story by the Israelis. We told them, what evidence do you have? You are scanning the border between Syria and Lebanon 24 hours a day and you cannot catch a big missile—scud or any other? This is not realistic.
"When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, they didn't know about the bunkers that they have in the south of Lebanon just few kilometers away from the Israeli forces. How could they know about the advancement that they have? These are rumors," the Syrian president added.
"They are afraid and worried about what Hezbollah is doing. Hezbollah, like any other organization, it's a war. When you have a war, everybody will make his position better and stronger. That's normal," Assad said.
The Syrian president continued to say that the main issue standing in the way of peace wasn't Damascus' support of Hamas and Hezbollah, but what he called Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. "Once you talk about Hamas, once you talk about Hezbollah, why do you have the room -- the elephant in the room. So let's talk about the peace.
"This elephant is the occupation and the Israeli aggression. When you don't have Israeli aggression, when you don't have occupation, forget about all these problems. It will be solved ultimately," Assad said.
Addressing Iran's nuclear program, Assad said he was told by "all of the senior Iranians" that it was geared for civilian purposes only.