Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in a televised address on Sunday that the civil war in his country had not yet been won, but that the Syrian Arab Army had made significant gains in the fight against ISIS and anti-government rebels.
Assad said there were signs of victory, but the “battle continues, and where we go later and it becomes possible to talk about victory…that’s a different matter”.
He also praised Russia, Iran and Hezbollah for their support, which enabled the Syrian regime forces to make significant gains in the struggle against ISIS and other rebel groups and re-capture large swaths of territory.
“Their direct support – politically, economically and militarily – has made possible bigger advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war,” Assad said, and added that his forces will continue an offensive against ISIS in the east of the country.
At the same time, Assad rejected the possibility of security cooperation or the restoration of diplomatic relations with countries that backed the Syrian rebels.
“Let’s be clear. There will be no security cooperation nor opening of embassies or even a role for some countries that say that they want to play a role in ending the crisis in Syria before they clearly and frankly cut their relations with terrorism,” he said. “At that point maybe we can speak about opening embassies.”
In last months, Syrian regime forces have managed to retake several key strategic points in the east of the country, with the aid of Russian air force and Iranian and Hezbollah militias.
“Our army is achieving one gain after another every day to eliminate terrorists…We will continue to attack terrorists until the last terrorist on Syrian land,” Assad said.
Syrian President also welcomed the Russian sponsored de-escalation zones agreement, which, he said, will help stop bloodshed in his country.
“The idea of these de-escalation zones is to stop the bloodletting … and the eviction of the armed groups handing over their weapons and the return of normalcy,” Assad said. “We have an interest in the success of this initiative.”
However, Assad rejected U.S. plans of creating ‘safe zones’, and said it would only help ‘give cover to terrorists’.
Assad’s regime views many Western backed groups (aka the ‘Free Syrian Army’) as terrorists, and accuses Western powers of trying to overthrow the regime in Damascus.
Despite the previous Western insistence that Assad ‘must go’, the successes of his regime in the battlefield, prompted some Western powers to soften their anti-Assad rhetoric.
Moscow and Tehran, on the other hand, made significant attempts to negotiate a truce that would enable humanitarian aid to reach civilians in battle ravaged areas of Syria.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images