Syrian president says Russia’s support in civil war has ‘tipped the scales,’ victory months away

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 14 (UPI) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the country’s civil war could be won within months, adding Russia’s support has “tipped the scales.”

Assad, speaking in an exclusive interview with NBC, said support from Russia, in addition to support from Ukraine and China, has helped move Syria toward victory. In the end, however, Syrian victory depends on how much support and recruitment the regime’s opponents have in other countries, he said.

Russia’s military began intervention in September, allowing the country to make territorial gains, including retaking Palmyra from the Islamic State.

“The Syrian army has made a lot of advancement recently,” Assad said. “The Russian support of the Syrian army has tipped the scales against the terrorists. It was the crucial factor.”

The interview with Assad comes ahead of a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to revive the sputtering Syrian cease-fire. An agreement may include requiring Assad to step down, multiple news outlets have reported.

Assad, in the NBC interview dismissed speculation of his resignation, saying he was confident he has Russia’s support. He said he and Putin are committed to defeating the IS and the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, adding that U.S. intervention has not helped the country.

“The reality is telling that, since the beginning of the American airstrikes, the terrorism has been expanding and prevailing,” Assad said. “It only shrinked when the Russians intervened.”

Assad said the end of President Barack Obama‘s tenure “means nothing” to Syria, adding he has paid little attention to the direction of U.S. politics and the future of the White House.

“In Syria, we never bet on any president coming or any president going,” he said. “Because what they say in their campaign is different from what they practice after they became elected.”

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