Syria's Assad Says Military 'Needs Time to Win Battle'

by
staff
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the government needs more time to "win the battle" against rebel forces.

President Assad said recent defections meant Syria had been "cleansed" of people lacking patriotism

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the government needs more time to "win the battle" against rebel forces.

In an interview with pro-government al-Dunya TV, Mr Assad also dismissed as "unrealistic" the idea of creating humanitarian buffer zones within Syria.

Opposition activists say the army has launched offensives across the country to regain control of rebel-held areas.

Heavy shelling was reported on Tuesday in the capital, Damascus, Aleppo, and the north-western province of Idlib.

Mr Assad said the Syrian government was "fighting a battle both regionally and internationally".

"It definitely needs time to bring it to a decisive end. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we're heading forward," he told al-Dunya.

"The situation on the ground is better now, but the conclusion is not there yet. That needs some time."

The president also addressed the proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to set up a United Nations-sanctioned buffer zone inside Syria to shelter refugees and help distribute humanitarian aid.

"Do we go back because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials or do we focus on our relationship with the Turkish people, especially those people who have stood by us during the crisis and were not swayed by the media and material propaganda?" he asked.

Mr Assad said recent defections by senior government and military officials meant Syria had been "cleansed" of people lacking patriotism.