Assad vows to retake all Syria, but will take time
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to regain control of the entire country but warned it could “take a long time,” in an exclusive AFP interview.
Speaking Thursday in Damascus, Assad said his armed forces would try to retake all of Syria “without any hesitation,” but that the involvement of regional players “means that the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price.”
He said the main goal of Syria’s armed forces in the northern province of Aleppo was to cut off access to the Turkish border.
“The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey, for Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists,” he said in an interview conducted Thursday in Damascus.
He warned that the French government should change its “destructive policies” in support of extremists.
France has implemented “destructive policies extending direct support to terrorism… It is France’s duty to reverse or change its policies,” Assad said.
Assad added that he supported negotiations to end his country’s conflict, but insisted he would not stop fighting “terrorism.”
“We have fully believed in negotiations… however, if we negotiate, it does not mean that we stop fighting terrorism. The two tracks are inevitable in Syria,” he said.
But he said he sees a risk that Saudi Arabia or Turkey could launch a military intervention in his country.
He said he “doesn’t rule out” such an intervention, but said that his armed forces “will certainly confront it.”
On the issue of the refugee crisis he said Europe was a “direct cause” of Syrians fleeing their homeland and must stop “giving cover to terrorists” before people return.
He called on European governments “which have been a direct cause for the emigration of these people… to help in making Syrians return to their country.”