Assad vows recapture of 'whole of Syria'
Fri Feb 12, 2016
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an interview with AFP in the capital Damascus on February 11, 2016. (AFP Photo)
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad says the government forces will retake the whole country from terrorists.
In an interview with AFP released on Friday, the Syrian president said the process could “take a long time.”
Assad said the eventual goal of the government is to liberate the whole country from the control of the terrorists.
“Regardless of whether we can do that or not, this is a goal we are seeking to achieve without any hesitation,” President Assad stated. “It makes no sense for us to say that we will give up any part.”
He said that it would be possible to "put an end to this problem in less than a year" if all terrorists’ supply routes from Turkey, Jordan and Iraq were cut, otherwise "the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price."
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people.
President Assad also said his government "fully believed in negotiations and in political action since the beginning of the crisis," but stressed that negotiations have nothing to do with uprooting terrorism. "If we negotiate, it does not mean that we stop fighting terrorism. The two tracks are inevitable in Syria."
The latest round of talks on the conflict in Syria, which was held in Geneva on February 3, were suspended after the Saudi-backed opposition group, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), refused to attend the sessions.
Observers say the so-called HNC refused to continue after the Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, made significant gains against Takfiri militant groups on several fronts, particularly in the strategic northern province of Aleppo.
The opposition has now called for a halt in Russia’s campaign as a condition for its participation in the negotiations, which are expected to resume on February 25.
The Syrian president said a major government offensive is under way in Aleppo with the aim of cutting off the terrorists’ supply route from Turkey.
"The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey, for Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists," Assad said.
Reports say the Syrian army has virtually encircled Takfiri militants in the eastern parts of Aleppo City after severing their main supply line to the Turkish border.
On the refugee crisis
Meanwhile, the Syrian president blamed the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe on the continent itself.
He also called on Europe's governments "which have been a direct cause for the emigration of these people, by giving cover to terrorists in the beginning and through sanctions imposed on Syria, to help in making the Syrians return to their country."
Assad dismissed UN allegations of government war crimes as "politicized" and groundless.
More than a million refugees arrived in Europe last year, triggering the worst such crisis the continent has seen in decades. Most of those refugees are from war-ravaged and poverty-stricken countries in the Middle East and Africa, with many saying EU powers are also to blame for the unprecedented exodus as they have done little to contain the problems in those regions.