Assad: Struggle to win Syria civil war

2012-08-29 18:00

Beirut - President Bashar Assad said the Syrian regime needs more time to win the civil war in remarks broadcast Wednesday that amounted to an acknowledgement his forces are struggling to contain the rebel challenge.

Over the past few months, the 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.

Assad, speaking in a television interview with a pro-regime private station, blamed his difficulties in defeating the rebels on what he claimed are outside forces fueling the rebellion.

"We are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it," he told privately owned Dunya television, which is majority owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad and one of Syria's wealthiest men. "I can sum up all this explanation in one sentence: We are moving forward. The situation is practically better but it has not been decided yet. That takes time."

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."

Rights groups monitoring the violence now report the deaths of 100 to 250 or more Syrians on daily basis, though the figures are impossible to independently verify. The fighting has been intense enough to force hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, seeking refuge elsewhere in the country or in neighboring nations.

Assad responded with a hearty laugh when told by the interviewer that rumors about his whereabouts often made the rounds among Syrians.

"I am here with you in the studio in Damascus," he said.

Turkey ignorant

Assad has rarely appeared in public since four of his top security officials were assassinated in a 18 July rebel bombing in Damascus.

Appearing confident and relaxed, Assad paid tribute to the Syrian people, saying they stood steadfastly behind him and his armed forces.

But he criticized the leaders of onetime ally Turkey, saying some of them were "ignorant".

Syrian officials routinely cite neighboring Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as among the rebels' main supporters, providing them with money and weapons.

"The fate of Syria, I tell the Syrian people, is in your hands," Assad said. "This broad base of the Syrian people protects the country."

He also paid tribute to government forces.

"If we ask ourselves which segment [of Syrian society] did more than all others in enabling this country to stand fast, it is undoubtedly the armed forces."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he would press the UN Security Council to set up a safe haven inside Syria to protect thousands of people fleeing the violence.

Turkey has long been floating the idea of a no-fly zone, or buffer zone, to protect displaced Syrians from attacks by Assad's forces, but the issue has become more pressing now the number of refugees in Turkey has exceeded 80 000 - a number it says approaches its limits.

"We expect the UN to step in and protect the refugees inside Syria, and if possible, to shelter them in camps there," Davutoglu told reporters before leaving for New York to attend Thursday's high-level UN Security Council meeting on Syria.

The rebels are fighting to overthrow Assad, who came to office in 2000 after succeeding his father, the late Hafez Assad, who ruled Syria with an iron fist for some 30 years. The conflict began as peaceful protests last year but has since morphed into a civil war.

Assad's description of the civil war as a regional and global battle is consistent with the regime's line that the rebels are members of terrorist bands. He speaks often of a Western conspiracy to break Syria, which he sees as the last bastion of Arab resistance against Israel.

State news agency Sana said government forces repulsed a major rebel attack on the military base of Taftanaz in the northern Idlib province. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the regime used fighter-jets and helicopter gunships in clashes with rebels near the base. The observatory monitors violence and abuses in Syria.

The Observatory also reported clashes in Aleppo, the central cities of Homs and Hama as well as the suburbs of Damascus.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-29 19:39

    It has been decided. The future of Syria is without you and your family in power. You could have been a positive part of that future, a true and great leader leading the country to greater human rights, openness and unimaginable prosperity. Unfortunately you decided again and again to attempt to use the Syrian people's own military against them, to impose your singular, unelected, unwelcome authority. This has never worked, ever, in the history of human kind. It's been tried by people far more powerful than you. All have failed. You will too. Best to step down now. You can still do this. It would be better than the future you are creating for yourself and your family, and for all Syrians. You are causing unimaginable pain and suffering.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-29 21:07

      The self-styled bloody surgeon of Syria.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-29 21:27

      Patrick Edwards will b gon soon.

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-08-29 20:05

    Probably it will take him a bit longer to sort out armed gangs of terrorists who are fully responsible for all the deaths of women elders and children, never mind helping hand of the West+Israel which is covered in blood as they arm those gangs. If to think over it why anyone would need to stir up the mess in a country where strong healthy opposition to the ruling party has been formed years before so called "uprising"?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-29 21:06

      You're in for a surprise. But you can always fall back on your evil-West, evil-Israel escape valve. The will of the Syrian people will prevail, and that's for democracy with free and fair elections, human rights and individual freedoms. Not something you're accustomed to or fully understand coming from the former Soviet Union and neo-Soviet ruled Russia.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-29 21:33

      Patrick, hadjis don't have balls.

  • shane.loxton - 2012-08-29 22:12

    Terrorists in Syria Using Prisoners as "Human Bombs"NYT embeds with war criminals, spin and excuse craven human rights violations as "cunning." One can only imagine the headlines had the Syrian government been caught using blindfolded prisoners to deliver trucks to enemy targets, told freedom was at hand when in reality they were delivering vehicles packed full of explosives and were essentially unwitting "human bombs." Curt articles with headlines like "ASSAD REGIME USES HUMAN BOMBS!" would surely be splashed across the Western press.A man, identified as Abu Hilal, was told he'd be given his freedom as part of a "prisoner exchange." In reality, terrorists had planted Undermining yet another myth of the fraudulent "War on Terror," it appears that Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, in Syria, Iraq, and beyond, have used unwitting "human bombs" driving vehicles or carrying parcels rigged with explosives they had no knowledge of - claiming they are "suicide bombers."However, it is terrorist militants operating in Syria that are employing these very tactics, apparently so frequently the Western media has feared eventually the story would get out. What would follow was a "limited hangout" provided courtesy of the New York Times, with copious amounts of literary padding to portray the craven war criminals as "human" and their premeditated violation of human rights as "desperate," even "justified."

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-29 22:54

      Shane, it's hard to read one long paragraph. I'd like to, but it's hard.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-31 16:49

      Shane believes the US attacked itself on 9/11.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-08-29 22:17

    We all know Assad government and that of his father before him is no pretty picture but it shakes me to the core to imagine what will follow if he is overthrown by any other means than his own people.Its common knowledge that even Syrians who oppose him are now a little scared of who now is trying to highjack their revolution!Out side interference has not helped but only inflamed the situation.I honestly believe that the effect on all the countries in the region will be very negative and troublesome..just imagine a idealistic Islamic Syria that is more aligned to Al Qaeda than anyone else,on going strife between Shia and Sunni Islam a country far larger than Lebanon and just as divided..what will Israel do in a neighborhood that is even more dangerous and fanatical what will happen to US and Western interests in the they ever stop to think about this..God help us all!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-29 22:53

      Dunkie, you only have authority to speak for yourself. Jihadists are to Syria what the PAC and Communist Party were to South Africa prior to 1994. A small, extreme minority. With every bloody, cruel death or torture by Assad, I believe Syrians' determination and resolve for goodness and true government grows. Out of the (unecessary) blood and turmoil will come a better, freer Syria and world.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-08-30 00:22

      are you sure Fred...better check your facts!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-30 02:09

      Are you suggesting Jihadists are the majority in Syria?

      shane.loxton - 2012-08-30 11:44

      2007 New Yorker Article Exposed US-Israeli-Saudi Conspiracy to Overthrow Assad. Muslim Brotherhood is funded by & serves as the primary instrument of US, Israel, & Saudi Arabia. Lebanon was designated as staging ground to destabilize Syria with sectarian extremists. Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood anti-Israeli and American sentiments are feigned. US intelligence knew in advance unleashing sectarian extremists would result in genocide. Saudis & Americans admit sectarian extremists - the foundation of Al Qaeda - are under their control.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-30 15:49

      Nonsense Shane. You're believing weird websites.

      shane.loxton - 2012-08-30 20:14

      Maybe I am Fred or maybe you are, but once again you don't back up your Nonsence statement with any conclusive evidence to the contoary, if you bothered to read the article and followed each link u will find it extremely hard to counter it, which I take is the reason u rather say I'm talking nonsence.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-31 02:55

      No, you are. That's a weird website. Anyone with a clear, undistorting mind can see that.

  • thooj.ying - 2012-08-30 21:42

    Because of OIL, no body want to help. Russia and China want to help Assad because ARMS sale.

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