Syria's 2021 elections 'open to all candidates', Assad claims
Assad, in comments on Russian state-sponsored television channel Russia Today aired Monday, said the election planned for two years from now will see numerous opponents.
"Last time we were three and this time of course we are going to have as much as they want to nominate. There are going to be numerous nominees," Assad said.
In the 2014 presidential election Assad faced two opponents but his critics say the election, which Assad won by a landslide, was a farce.
In the same interview with RT, Assad said his forces will soon retake control of the last major rebel stronghold in the country's northwestern province of Idlib.
He said they are now giving civilians some time to leave the area that is dominated by al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Syrian regime troops launched a four-month offensive on the anti-government bastion earlier this year, killing around 1,000 civilians and displacing more than 400,000 people from their homes.
A ceasefire announced by Russia has largely held since late August, although the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says dozens of civilians have been killed in sporadic bombardment since then.
On Sunday, three children were among at least seven civilians killed in an airstrike on the region by Syrian regime ally Russia.
The airstrikes - the third wave by Russian aircraft in eight days on northwestern Syria - struck the village of Kafr Ruma in the jihadist-run enclave of Idlib, the Observatory said.
The Idlib region, which is home to some three million people including many displaced by Syria's eight-year civil war, is controlled by the country's former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Read more: Girl among civilians killed as US condemns escalating Russian strikes on Idlib
Last month Assad said Idlib was standing in the way of an end to the civil war that has ravaged his country through most of the current decade.
The Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, after the brutal suppression of peaceful protests by the Assad regime. More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.
Agencies contributed to this report.