Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:41PM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says army forces have gained “upper hand” in the battle with the foreign-backed militants. “The army has a very large lead on the ground and has achieved significant gains,” Assad said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published on Monday. He further said the Syrian army could even win the battle against the militants if Turkey stopped supporting them. “If the Turkish border was closed to tackle the smuggling of arms and militants, this matter would be resolved in only two weeks.” Many people, including a large number of security personnel, have been killed in the violence that broke out in the Arab country in March 2011. Damascus says certain Western states, especially the United States, and their regional allies are fueling the deadly unrest. The Syrian president went on to say that the militants’ “playground is limited to some border areas with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and some pockets in the countryside of the capital, which are being dealt with.” Assad said that the situation in the capital, Damascus, has improved, adding, “The externally-funded armed groups received strong blows recently.” He also stressed that Damascus will continue to cooperate with the UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi to solve the crisis in the country. In a key speech on January 6, Assad stated that Damascus was always ready to hold talks with the opposition and political parties and that he would call for a “comprehensive national dialog” after the terrorist activities stopped in the country. The Syrian president also urged “concerned states and parties” to stop funding, arming and harboring militants. MKA/MA
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