Syrian Army Advancing Thanks to Russia Strikes: Assad

Syrian Army Advancing Thanks to Russia Strikes: Assad

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Syrian army forces are advancing on "nearly every front" thanks to Russian air strikes that began in September, President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Chinese television released Sunday.

The Syrian president also said he favored new peace talks to be hosted in Moscow, but stressed that the Syrian conflict could not be resolved without defeating terrorism.

In the interview with China's Phoenix television, Assad said the situation in Syria had "improved in a very good way" since Russia began air strikes on Sept. 30, AFP reported.

"Now I can say that the army is making advancement in nearly every front... in many different directions and areas on the Syrian ground," he said, speaking in English.

Russia is coordinating its air strikes with Damascus, unlike the US-led coalition fighting ISIL, which Assad and his government criticize as ineffectual.

Moscow has also sought a leading role in a political resolution to the conflict, participating in high-level talks in Vienna with other powers recently in a bid to create a framework for peace.

Assad said it was "my right" to run in new elections but it was "too early" to say if he intended to.

"(It) depends on how my feeling is regarding the Syrian people. I mean, do they want me or not?"

"You cannot talk about something that's going to happen maybe in the next few years," he said.

Assad said he backed Moscow's efforts to organize new dialogue between the government and opposition in a "Moscow 3" conference, but insisted a political solution could only be achieved with the defeat of terrorism.

The Syrian leader said it would take "maximum of two years" to produce a new constitution and hold a referendum on it.

President Assad blamed the West and other backers of the groups fighting his government for sponsoring extremism, and also said the West had exploited a photograph of a young Syrian refugee child, Aylan Kurdi, found dead on a Turkish beach.

"That photo was used as propaganda by the West," he said, accusing backers of militant groups of driving Syrians abroad by sponsoring terrorism and levying sanctions on Syria.

"This boy and... other children suffered and died and are being killed because of the Western policies in this world, in this region," he said.

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