More time needed for victory: Assad

More time needed for victory: Assad

More time needed for victory: Assad

A man carries bags of bread next to people queuing at the only bakery serving the outskirts of Idlib. Syrian president says the idea of buffer zone is not practical. REUTERS photo

Talk of a Western-imposed buffer zone on Syrian territory is unrealistic and the situation in the country is “better,” but more time is still needed to win the conflict against rebels, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said. 

“I believe that talk about a buffer zone is not practical, even for those countries that are playing a hostile role [against Syria],” al-Assad said during an interview with Syria’s Addounia television, excerpts of which were broadcast yesterday. 

The president also took a swipe at Turkey’s government, saying: “Will we go backwards because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials? ... [The Turkish people] have stood by us during the crisis.”

The president, responding to rumors concerning his whereabouts since a July bombing in Damascus, said he was speaking from the presidential palace in the capital. “I can summarize in one phrase: We are progressing, the situation on the ground is better, but we have not yet won – this will take more time,” said al-Assad.

Al-Assad, who has vowed to defeat insurgents he describes as Islamist terrorists, praised the army and security forces who he said “are doing a heroic job in every sense … I tell the Syrian people that the fate of Syria is in their hands.”

He also mocked those defecting from his regime, saying their departure amounted to a “self-cleansing of the government firstly, and the country generally.” 

Syria’s government has been rattled by several high-profile defections as the conflict has escalated, including by former Prime Minister Riad Hijab and prominent Gen. Manaf Tlass, one of al-Assad’s childhood friends.

“Despite several mistakes, there is a strong bond” between the regime and the Syrian people, al-Assad said, claiming that he had the support of the majority of the country’s population.