Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says government forces and fighters from allied popular groups are on the road to more victories in their battle against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terror groups.
“We do not consider that (retaking Aleppo from the rebels) as a victory because victory will be when we have eliminated all the terrorists,” Assad said in an exclusive interview with the Luxembourgish French-language RTL television station, which is scheduled to be aired on Monday.
“But it is a critical moment in this war, because we are on the path to victory,” the 51-year-old Syrian leader pointed out.
The Syrian army announced on December 22, 2016 that government forces had wrested full control over Aleppo after the last batch of civilians and militants were evacuated from the city.
Earlier on Sunday, Assad expressed optimism over the forthcoming negotiations between the Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition in the Kazakh capital Astana on January 23.
Damascus is “ready to negotiate” with some 91 armed opposition groups, he was quoted as saying by Syria’s official news agency, SANA, during a meeting with a visiting delegation of French parliamentarians and intellectuals in the capital Damascus.
Assad also said he was “counting a lot” on the upcoming talks in Kazakhstan.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura expressed hope on January 5 that the truce in Syria and the forthcoming Astana negotiations could accelerate UN-brokered peace efforts.
“We believe that any effort again that consolidates… the cessation of hostilities and helps in preparing a (UN-backed) discussion that will take place here in Geneva in February is certainly welcome,” he told reporters, adding that he wants to rekindle inter-Syrian peace talks on February 8.
On December 31, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a draft resolution submitted by Russia and Turkey on the ceasefire, which excludes the Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri groups.
The text of the resolution “welcomes and supports efforts by Moscow and Ankara to end violence in Syria and jump-start a political process.”
It also calls for rapid access for humanitarian aid to be delivered throughout Syria.