Assad: Aleppo’s Fall Will Be Huge Step To Ending Syrian War

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Presidency via AP, File)

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Presidency via AP, File)

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have recaptured all but a fifth of east Aleppo from rebels, has said victory in the city will be a “huge step” towards ending the war.

But in an interview to be published Thursday by Syrian newspaper al-Watan, early copies of which were given to international media, the president talked up a victory in the northern city.

“It’s true that Aleppo will be a win for us, but let’s be realistic – it won’t mean the end of the war in Syria,” he said. “But it will be a huge step towards this end.”

A rebel loss in Aleppo “will mean the transformation of the course of the war across Syria,” he said.

Assad described the city as the “last hope” of rebels and their backers, “after their failure in the battles of Damascus and Homs”.

“The decision to liberate all of Syria is taken and Aleppo is part of it.”

A fierce offensive launched last month has seen Assad’s forces move closer than ever to retaking all of Aleppo and winning their most important victory yet in the civil war that began in 2011.

Rebel fighters, who seized east Aleppo in 2012, have suffered devastating setbacks there in recent days, losing about 80 percent of their former territory, including the historic Old City, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Six western powers – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States – said Wednesday that a humanitarian disaster was “taking place before our very eyes” in Aleppo.

They called for an “immediate ceasefire” to allow aid to reach eastern Aleppo and accused Damascus and its backers, especially Russia, of blocking emergency help.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was to hold fresh talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Hamburg, Germany, later on Wednesday on efforts to halt the fighting.

Asked about the possibility of a truce in Aleppo, Assad told al-Watan: “It’s practically non-existent, of course.”

“The Americans in particular are insisting on demanding a truce, because their terrorist agents are now in a difficult situation,” Assad told the paper.

Opposition fighters have rejected talk of leaving Aleppo, and Assad’s government has said it will not agree to any ceasefire without a full rebel withdrawal.


© Middle East Eye

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