Assad Needs 'More Time' to Win Syrian Civil War

World | August 29, 2012, Wednesday // 17:02|  views

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) shaking hands with the head of Iran`s Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Alaeddin Boroujerdi, in Damascus, Syria on 26 August 2012. EPA/BGNES

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a broadcast Wednesday that his regime needs more time to win the civil war, acknowledging that his forces are struggling to contain the rebel challenge.

He also addressed the growing stream of defections from the military and the government, but tried to play down the flight by saying it was healthy.

"We are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it," Assad said in an interview with the pro-regime private TV station Dunya, as cited by BW.

"We are moving forward. The situation is practically better but it has not been decided yet. That takes time," he told the station, which is majority owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad and one of Syria's wealthiest men.

He appeared to make light of the significant number of defections, some of them senior military and political officials — including the prime minister — and diplomats.

"Defections are a mechanism of self-cleansing of the nation," said Assad. "If there is a Syrian citizen who knows of someone who wishes to flee but is hesitant to do so he should encourage him," he said with a smile.

He tried to blame his difficulties in defeating the rebels on what he claimed to be outside forces fueling the rebellion.

Over the past few months, the Syrian military has increasingly been stretched thin fighting on multiple fronts against rebels seeking to oust Assad's authoritarian regime. His forces have been unable to quell the rebellion as it spread to the capital Damascus with significant clashes that began in July and to Syria's largest city, Aleppo, a few weeks later. At the same time, the military is fighting in a string of other cities and towns around the country.

The comments were released in an advance excerpt of the interview to be aired by Dunya in full later in the day.

Taken together with his comments to a visiting Iranian official over the weekend, Assad shows willingness for an even more prolonged conflict, even with more than 20,000 estimated dead in more than 17 months of fighting. He told the Iranian official his regime would continue the fight against the rebels "whatever the price."

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Tags: Bashar Al-Assad, Syria, Iran, Syrian president, civil war, arab spring, defected


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