Syria's Assad: Focus on Regime Change a Barrier to Peace


Syria's conflict could be over in less than a year, but misguided efforts to bring about regime change will make it "drag on," Syrian President Bashar Assad said late Thursday.

In an interview with Dutch television station NPO2, the embattled leader said only regime backers Russia and Iran -- not the West -- were ready to resolve Syria's nearly five-year war. 

"None of them, only Russia and Iran and their allies, and the other countries that support politically the Syrian government... but not the West, no one in the West is ready," Assad said, speaking in English. 

His remarks came on the eve of the third round of global talks in New York between 17 countries, including Russia and Iran, aimed at resolving the conflict. 

But Assad said the war could be over in less than a year "if the responsible countries take actions against the flood" of foreign fighters flocking to Syria.  

"But the problem is that they are still supporting them on daily basis... because they want the solution, what they called a political solution, to be ended with the changing of this state," Assad said. 

"So, that's why it will drag on."

He also suggested that the model of local ceasefires was working across Syria, after an agreement overseen by the United Nations brought the last rebel-held neighbourhood of the iconic central city of Homs under government control. 

"We made negotiations with a group of those in order to go back to their normal lives, to give up their armaments, and to have amnesty, and it worked, and this is a real solution on the ground now," Assad said. 

Still, he said, "all of them are terrorists."

Syria's government refers to all of its opponents, including unarmed activists, as "terrorists."   

Assad's relaxed manner turned to sarcasm when asked whether he was comforted that the West's stances on his departure were seemingly softening. 

"I was packing my luggage, I had to leave, but now I can stay," the thin president said sardonically. 

More than 250,000 people have died in Syria's war, which began with demonstrations against Assad but evolved into a brutal conflict after a government crackdown.

Comments 3
Thumb EagleDawn 18 December 2015, 08:23

The criminal looks thin, pale and sick.

Default-user-icon mowaten@mujtahid (Guest) 18 December 2015, 09:32

the best president Lebanon ever had

Missing humble 18 December 2015, 10:14

The Butcher. The greatest assassin of all times.