Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says civil war’s ‘worst is behind us’

The Syrian President claimed things were moving in the ‘right direction’ because his forces were ‘defeating the terrorists’: Reuters
The Syrian President claimed things were moving in the ‘right direction’ because his forces were ‘defeating the terrorists’: Reuters

Bashar al-Assad has claimed the worst of his country’s civil war “is behind us” following a series of advances by his forces backed by key ally Russia.

Speaking to an India-based television station in Damascus, the Syrian President said things were moving in the “right direction” because they were “defeating the terrorists”.

His army faces Isis and similar extremists groups, but also Kurdish forces and Western-backed rebels formed after the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement.

The President’s troops and allied fighters have recaptured territory across Syria over the past year, including all of Aleppo city in December.

Mr Assad told India-based WION: “Things now are moving in the right direction, which is a better direction, because we are defeating the terrorists.

“Unless the West and other countries and their allies, their puppets, support those extremists in... a very massive way, I’m sure the worst is behind us.”

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, when a string of mass demonstrations took place against Mr Assad’s government. The fighting has driven 11 million people from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Syrian forces surrendered their chemical arsenal to an international watchdog after hundreds died in a sarin attack in Damascus in 2013, although the opposition has long accused the regime of holding back some of its supply.

Last month, Human Rights Watch accused Mr Assad’s regime of increasing its use of banned chemical agents, saying the army had used nerve agents and chlorine gas on rebel targets at least four times in the last six months.

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