Victory will take time, says Assad

Syrias fate in hands of its people who are with me

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday that government forces need time to win the country’s civil war, which he says has drawn in regional and international powers.

The remarks were a sign Assad’s regime may be hunkering down for a drawn out struggle against rebels on a multitude of fronts, including Damascus, the capital and Assad’s seat of power, Aleppo, the nation’s largest city, and a string of cities and towns across the Arab nation.

They also appeared to reinforce Assad’s remarks to a visiting Iranian official over the weekend that his regime would continue the fight against the rebels “whatever the price.”

“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.

Assad responded with a hearty laugh when told by the interviewer that rumuors about his whereabouts often made the rounds among Syrians. “I am here with you in the studio in Damascus,” he said.

The comments were given in an advance excerpt of a television interview to be aired in full later on Wednesday. “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.”

Confident and relaxed, Assad paid tribute to the Syrian people, saying they stood steadfastly behind him and his armed forces, and criticized the leaders of onetime ally Turkey, saying some of them were “ignorant.”

Syrian officials routinely cite neighbouring 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.”

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

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