Assad says regime will 'liberate every inch' of Syria

Assad says regime will 'liberate every inch' of Syria
3 min read
07 June, 2016
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad addressed parliament on Tuesday, saying his forces will fight to 'liberate every inch' of the country, and ruled out UN-backed peace talks
Assad remained defiant during his speech to parliament [AFP]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that a military solution is the only way out for the country, during a defiant speech at the Damacus' parliament on Tuesday.

Assad also hardened his position to UN-sponsored peace talks saying the regime won't accept any other roadmap but its own.

"We will not agree to any topic outside the statement of principles we presented to the UN. We just won't accept it," Assad said during his first appearance at parliament since 2012.

The regime delegation has submitted a proposal for peace that stresses Syria being ruled by a "unity government" - with regime-backed soft opposition - and not a "transitional governing body" that would exclude Assad.

This has been a key demand of the opposition who insist that Assad must step down before any peace deal is signed.

Assad said he had received no response from the UN regarding this paper and that in the government's eyes, "the negotiations have not actually started".

Assad spoke to MPs for the first time since an April general election in regime-controlled areas that was dismissed internationally as a sham.

"The Syrian people surprised the world yet again with an unprecedented voter turnout... and an unprecedented number of candidates," Assad said.

He also suggested that he was looking at a military solution to Syria's five year war.

"As we liberated Palmyra [from the Islamic State group], so shall we liberate every inch of Syria... we have no choice but victory," he said to applause from MPs.

He said that the war was sparked by "outside powers" despite the regime gunning down protesters during early demonstrations in 2011.

"Our war on terrorism will continue not because we like war. They imposed the war on us. The shedding of blood will not end until we uproot terrorism, wherever it is."

During the speech he thanked China for using its veto in the UN Security Council to stop sanctions on Syria.

He also thanked Russia, Iran and Hizballah for their military support, who have sent thousands of fighters or war planes to help prop up the regime.

Despite this foreign intervention force helping keep Assad in power with a nationwide rebellion taking place, Assad still blamed "foreigners" for the crisis.

The opposition are "traitors for foreign countries who have become mats for the feet of their masters", he said, further ruling out talks with moderate rebel groups.

"Our war on terrorism will continue not because we like war. They imposed the war on us... The shedding of blood will not end until we uproot terrorism, wherever it is," he added.

As he left the hall, MPs cheered "Our soul, our blood we sacrifice for you, Bashar", a well-known chant by regime supporters.

Agencies contributed to this story.