Assad Gives New Television Interview
Syrian president Bashar Assad said in a television interview Wednesday that he feels the situation in Syria has become "better" and is moving forward, though it will take more time for his forces to defeat rebels, according to Al Jazeera.
"I can summarize in one phrase: we are progressing, the situation on the ground is better but we have not yet won," Assad said. "This will take more time."
Snippets of Assad's interview with pro-government station Al Dounia, which is owned by his cousin, one of Syria's wealthiest men, were released, but the whole tape will appear sometime Wednesday.
Assad also claimed that he is in Damascus, and appeared relaxed, laughing at the interviewer's suggestion that the president should appear on television every day to dispel rumors.
"Everyone is worried about their country, that is normal," Assad said. "But [rebels] will not be able to spread fear, they never will."
Assad also denied the possibility of creating buffer zones in Syria to protect refugees and aid rebels.
French president Francois Hollande had said on Monday that he was planning on establishing buffer zones along with other countries, but Assad dismissed the notion as being an "unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria."
The Syrian president also said that outside forces are the reason the violence must be prolonged, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
"We are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it," Assad said.
Assad told a visiting Iranian official over the weekend that his government would prolong the struggle against the rebels "whatever the cost."
Bloomberg reports that rights groups have estimated that 100 to 250 Syrians are killed on a daily basis, and hundreds of thousands have had to leave their homes looking for refuge.
Addressing the sizable defections from his regime and military, Assad said that they only served to "cleanse" Syria.
He also praised his regime's security forces for their "heroic conduct" fighting the opposition, and said that onetime ally Turkey, who has taken in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and reportedly aided rebel forces, has some ignorant leaders.
This television interview marks the second time Assad has appeared on television this month, after a couple of his top security advisers were killed in a July bombing.
On August 19, he appeared attending a mosque for prayers at the end of the Muslim holiday Ramadan.
Al Jazeera also reported that a car bomb killed 27 people in a suburb of Damascus on Tuesday at a funeral of two government loyalists who were themselves killed in a bombing.
Syrian fighter jets also reportedly killed at least 60 people in Damascus's eastern suburbs.
Activists claim that about 25,000 people have been killed since the civil war broke out in March last year, while the United Nations says that more than 214,000 refugees have gone to neighboring countries.
The struggle for Syria's largest city, Aleppo, continues after more than a month of deadly fighting.
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Syria here.