Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Western powers are “becoming much weaker” in his conflict-ridden country as government forces, backed by fighters from allied popular defense groups, are gaining more ground in battles against foreign-backed terrorists.
“In the past, if I said anything, people would say the Syrian president is disconnected from reality. Now it is different. The West is becoming much weaker,” Assad said in an interview with the British weekly The Sunday Times, which was published on Sunday.
The 51-year-old Syrian leader further questioned the role that the so-called US-led military coalition is playing in the fight against Daesh extremists, saying, “They don’t have a leg to stand on explaining to people what’s going on. Daesh was smuggling oil and using Iraqi oil fields under American satellites and drones to make money, and the West was not saying anything.”
He then praised Russian airstrikes on the positions of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria.
“What made the difference, of course, was firepower. They have firepower we don’t have. At the end, we were fighting an unlimited reserve of terrorists coming to Syria and we struggled, so Russian firepower and Iranian support has compensated,” Assad pointed out.
The Syrian president underlined that Russia is not interfering in Syria’s internal affairs, and that Moscow is not looking for political deals with the Damascus government.
“They never try to interfere because they don’t want anything from us. They don’t ask us to be a puppet president,” Assad commented.
He also expressed determination that Syrian forces will eventually retake Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city and the country’s industrial and financial center, from Takfiri terrorists.
“Aleppo is an issue where terrorists have occupied part of the city, and we need to get rid of them,” the Syrian president said.
Also on Sunday, Syrian army soldiers killed scores of militants as they attacked their hideouts in the Dara’a al-Balad district of Dara’a, located about 90 kilometers south of the capital Damascus, as well as al-Ghariya al-Gharbia village northeast of Dara’a.
Syrian troopers thwarted an assault by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as al-Nusra Front, militants on a military camp outside the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh, located roughly 17 kilometers northeast of Dara’a, killing and injuring a large number of terrorists.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.