In an exclusive interview with AFP, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said that the main objective of the Geneva II peace talks this week should be a decision on the “fight against terrorism,” and if his government loses the country’s war it would mean “chaos throughout the Middle East.” “The Geneva conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria,” he said. “This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value.” Speaking at the presidential palace in Damascus, days before the beginning date of the Geneva II peace talks, Assad said he expected his country’s bloody conflict to drag on, calling it a “fight against terrorism” and rejecting any distinction between opposition fighters and radical jihadists.
The Syrian leader said he expected the country’s conflict to grind on, although he said his forces were making progress. The conflict, which began in March 2011, has cost more than 100,000 lives, and has displaced millions of Syrians. “What we can say is that we are making progress and moving forward. This doesn’t mean that victory is near at hand; these kinds of battles are complicated, difficult and they need a lot of time,” he said. “But when you’re defending your country, it’s obvious that the only choice is to win,” added Assad, who deems all those who oppose his regime “terrorists”. “This battle is not…, as Western propaganda portrays, a popular uprising against a regime suppressing its people and a revolution calling for democracy and freedom,” he said. More