Assad Says Confident of Winning Syria War

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President Bashar Assad said he is confident his troops will win the conflict ravaging Syria, as new calls were made on Monday for the International Criminal Court to launch a probe into war crimes.

Assad's comments, published in Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper, came as the European Union renewed sanctions against Syria while amending them to enable nations to provide more "non-lethal" and technical support to help protect civilians.

As-Safir said that Assad had met with unnamed Lebanese politicians in Damascus during which he assured them that Syria's future belonged to his camp.

"We are sure we will win, we are reassured by the political and military developments," Assad was quoted as telling the visiting politicians, the newspaper said.

"We are convinced that the future is ours... Syria has the willpower to defeat the conspiracy," said Assad, according to As-Safir.

He said those "loyal" to his regime "represent the absolute majority of Syrians".

Since the outbreak of a revolt against his regime in March 2011 that later morphed into an insurgency, Assad has systematically labeled opponents and rebels alike as "terrorists" he says are funded and backed by the West, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The United Nations says that nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, many in massacres, bombardments, under torture and through summary executions.

A report by a U.N.-mandated commission of inquiry on the Syria conflict released in Geneva on Monday said that both Syrian state forces and rebels were committing war crimes, though it said the government camp carried more blame.

At a news conference where the report was released, commission member Carla del Ponte renewed calls for the International Criminal Court to probe war crimes in Syria.

"The international community -- and the U.N. Security Council -- must take the decision to refer this to justice," said del Ponte, a former U.N. prosecutor.

"We suggest the International Criminal Court. We can't decide, but we are pressuring the international community to act, because it's time to act," she said.

The decision to refer the conflict to the court lies with the U.N. Security Council, where there are deep splits between Western members and Russia, a longstanding ally of Syria's regime, plus China.

China has backed Russia in vetoing Security Council resolutions that would have put greater pressure on Assad's regime.

Meanwhile a statement agreed by EU foreign ministers said the bloc's sanctions were renewed for three more months until end-May, while "amending them so as to provide greater non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians."

The ministers' talks on Syria largely focused on a request by Britain, backed by Italy and a handful of EU allies, to lift an EU arms embargo barring the supply of weapons to the rebel coalition battling Assad's regime.

Though the arms embargo was maintained, the agreement to boost "non-lethal" support and "technical assistance" went some way to meeting Britain's calls for more support for the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

On the battlefront, rebel fighters on Monday pushed on with an assault launched last week to seize key airports in northern Aleppo province, and captured a checkpoint near Nayrab military airport, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Rebels also clashed with troops along the strategic Aleppo international airport road, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse.

The rebels are determined to seize airports in a bid to capture large stocks of ammunition from regime forces and put out of action the air force's deadly firepower.

Monday's advance is the latest in a series by the rebels since they captured last week air bases at al-Jarrah, Hassel and Base 80 in Aleppo province.

A military source in Aleppo speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said rebels on Monday also tried but failed to raid the international airport's fuel storage warehouse.

"The army fought off the raid," said the source, adding that clashes broke out just 200 meters (yards) away from the airport and were "very fierce."

Comments 14
Thumb geha 18 February 2013, 16:59

from now on expect your skies to become open to other countries fighter jets like what happened in Libya.
keep dreaming like kadhafi until you will be shot dead.

Missing bigjohn 19 February 2013, 00:34

I wish you were right Geha, but Baathist Syria is more like Baathist Iraq than Qadafi's Libya. Like in Iraq, the Baathist party is in every neighborhood and in every sect. It was false when Saddam was labeled anti-Shiite with no Shiite support and it is wrong to say that Assad is anti-Sunni with no Sunni support.

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 17:39

i guess now that he has trained on his own people he ll declare war against israel to liberate the golan heights? or is he too coward to do that?

Missing sanctify 18 February 2013, 18:20

He lost the war long time ago.

Thumb lebnanfirst 18 February 2013, 18:47

What Bashar has yet to internalize is that it is no longer his war to win. It is now up to the US and Russia to agree an outcome. For the US the outcome is dependent on Iran's nuclear program and what Iran is willing to do to mollify the West's concerns about a nuclear theocracy. For Russia, it is self interest vis a long time arms client nation as well as pride and prestige regarding power projection in its own backyard.

As a foot note, one wonders what Assad defines as victory when most of his population are Sunnis and are hell bent on removing him. Historically, when a population rises and is willing to carry arms and sacrifice for its goal, it eventually achieves it.

Thumb lebnanfirst 18 February 2013, 19:25

Right, and that is why their has been an uprising for two years now going on three and why it started peaceful and turned to armed uprising. One might not like the facts but admitting them is the first step towards a resolution. Denying the obvious may make one feel warm and fuzzy inside but at the expense of things blowing up in one's face later. Remember Qaddafi?

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 19:52

lol... fighting tanks and airplanes with rifles is an easy task no? you are so funny in defending the baath system...

Thumb LEBhasNOhope 18 February 2013, 19:25

Let him stay confident. It will be harder to hang him if he voluntarily steps down.

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 19:53

a year ago he was repeating that all was under control... that it was only a few cities that revolted, nothing serious... LOL!

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 19:56

true, israel has no benefit in seeing assad fall... assad has been protecting the golan for them!! israel fears that the FSA wins the war!
assad is no resistant as M8 pictures him, oh! yes a resistant but against his own people like any crazy dictator! (see staline, hitler, pol pot, hussein, kaddhafi... all the same methods and propaganda! a plot from abroad!!!)

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 20:06

hezbis once again play the role of israel by helping bashar to keep the israel conflict limited to lebanon and trying to keep the golan heights quiet as they ve been doing for decades....

why didn t hezbi help syria take the golan as they are rushing to "defend" lebanese villages in syria and helping the regime crush the revolution?

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 20:02

bashar let the situation rot on purpose. he knew and everyone knew that by doing that and by provoking his own people by killing them he would trigger a reaction. this situation rotting it was easy for extremist groups to take part and try to benefit from the chaos as in any similar conflicts if you take the time to analyze. then it was easy for him to say that this revolution has nothing syrian but was ordered from abroad thus justifying his fierce use of heavy weapons on the population!
it s just history repeating itself as all dictators use the same methods to crush any uprising... and M8 of course faithfully repeats the baath propaganda as nice little pups they are trained to be....

Missing bigjohn 19 February 2013, 00:20

Roar...the west does not "dictate who is in or who is out". NATO intervention can not keep their puppets in power in Afghanistan and the Taliban will take over shortly after NATO leaves. When the Taliban were in power only 3 countries had diplomatic relations with them. Assad can rule just like Saddam ruled and Assad has a lot more support outside his country than Saddam did.

Assad is a lousy dictator who cares more about his rule than his people. The majority of Syrians may support him as a lessor of two evils, but they are definitely not "loyal" to him.

Default-user-icon Murderer (Guest) 19 February 2013, 12:24

Yes, if you murder all your citizens, you will win your war and rule a country with a population = what's left of your army of murderers ! Any women and children left for your population to prosper in greatness ?