Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with French media aired yesterday that his forces are on the road to victory after recapturing the key city of Aleppo last month.
“We don’t consider it (retaking Aleppo from the rebels) as a victory. The victory will be when you get rid of all the terrorists,” Assad said in the interview with France Info, LCP and RTL television.
“But it’s a tipping point in the course of the war and it is on the way to victory,” he said in excerpts provided by RTL.
Assad also ruled out a truce with rebels in an area near Damascus which supplies the capital with its water needs.
Millions of people have been without water for weeks after fighting damaged key infrastructure in the Wadi Barada region that is the main water source for Damascus.
It was Assad’s first interview with French media since the December 22 recapture of the rebel-held east of Aleppo, which had been under siege for months.
Rebel forces, who seized eastern districts of the city in 2012, agreed to withdraw after a month-long army offensive that drove them from more than 90 percent of their former territory.
Asked about heavy bombing raids that ravaged the city and claimed large numbers of civilian lives, Assad said, in excerpts provided by France Info: “But you have to liberate, and this is the price sometimes.”
He added: “But at the end, the people are liberated from the terrorists” — Assad’s term for all fighters opposed to his rule.
“Of course it’s very painful for us as Syrians to see any part of our country destroyed, or to see any bloodshed anywhere,” he said, adding: “Every war is bad.”
The Syrian president asked, “Is it better to leave (civilians) under their (rebels’) supervision, under their oppression, by beheading, by killing?”
Earlier Sunday in Damascus, Assad told visiting French lawmakers that he was “optimistic” about new peace talks planned for later this month in Kazakhstan.
The talks in Astana are being organised by Syria’s allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey.
Source: Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh