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  Bashar al-Assad: Will retake whole nation, may take long time

Bashar al-Assad: Will retake whole nation, may take long time

Published : Feb 13, 2016, 3:33 am IST
Updated : Feb 13, 2016, 3:33 am IST

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to retake the entire country but warned it could take a “long time,” in an interview that comes as international pressure grows for a ceasefire.

Bashar al-Assad
 Bashar al-Assad

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to retake the entire country but warned it could take a “long time,” in an interview that comes as international pressure grows for a ceasefire.

Speaking at his office in Damascus on Thursday, Mr Assad said he supported peace talks, but that negotiations do “not mean that we stop fighting terrorism”.

 

He said a major Russian-backed government offensive under way in the northern province of Aleppo was aimed mainly at severing the Opposition’s supply route from Turkey.

Mr Assad said he saw a risk that Turkey and Saudi Arabia, key backers of the Opposition, would intervene militarily in Syria.

He also addressed the massive flow of refugees from his country, saying it was up to Europe to stop “giving cover to terrorists” so that Syrians could return home.

Mr Assad rejected UN allegations of regime war crimes, describing them as “politicised” and lacking evidence.

With air support from key ally Russia and backing by pro-government fighters, regime troops have nearly encircled Aleppo, Syria’s second city.

 

Mr Assad said his regime’s eventual goal was to retake all of Syria, large swathes of which are under the control of rebel forces or the ISIS jihadist group.

“Regardless of whether we can do that or not, this is a goal we are seeking to achieve without any hesitation,” he said.

Mr Assad said it would be possible to “put an end to this problem in less than a year” if opposition supply routes from Turkey, Jordan and Iraq were cut.

Location: Syria, Damascus