The Syrian regime leader, Bashar al Assad said on Sunday that only Syrians should decide on the changes concerning the country’s political situation or its rulers, in an interview aired on Syrian television.
Assad appeared in an interview, following the Russian intervention in Syria, Russia claims its presence there is to help Syria combat ISIS, but Russia is also launching air strikes against the moderate opposition groups fighting against the Assad regime.
Assad regimes international opponents, US, its Western allies, Turkey, and some Gulf Arab-states agreed that a political solution to the Syria’s four-year-old brutal civil war involves Assad stepping aside.
Assad said, "With regards to the matter of a transitional period or otherwise, my words are clear: it is not for any foreign powers to determine the future of Syria, the future of the political system or which individuals are to govern - this is a decision for the Syrian people."
He also said a military campaign by Russia and Syria, alongside Iranian-backed Hezbollah will decide the destiny of the Middle East.
A joint statement from the seven countries - the US, UK , Germany, France, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - said that Russia's military actions in the region would only fuel more extremism causing "further escalation" of the conflict.
The Syrian regime leader said a coalition of Western and Arab air strikes against ISIS had been counterproductive and “terrorism” had spread, including expansion of both territory and newly recruited militants. He claimed that a year of US-led coalition against ISIS militants had only supported the spread of the insurgency.
US President, Barack Obama has told world leaders at the UN General Assembly that Syrian regime leader Assad must step down if the US-led coalition is to defeat the ISIS militant group.
Obama’s briefing at the UN General Assembly, comes a year after the US-led coalition began targeting ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq. He told the world leaders that since air strikes began, ISIS had lost control of a third of the populated areas it previously controlled and had almost been completely "cut off" from the borders of Turkey, a key member of the NATO military alliance.
Regime's use of chemical weapons
Since the beginning of the conflict, photos have been posted by activists on internet showing deformed new-born babies. The reason for the deformities is alleged to be due to the usage of chemical weapons in attacks against civilians in Syria.
"The Assad regime has again demonstrated its brutality by turning to chlorine as another barbaric weapon in its arsenal against the Syrian people,” said US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power.
The United States, Britain, and France - three of the five permanent members of the Security Council - have accused the Assad regime of using chemical weapons.
Even so, the regime has continued using such weapons from time to time, according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The four-year- long war in Syria has claimed the lives of approximately 350,000 people, according to the SOHR. The SOHR has documented the deaths of 250,000 people since the start of the war. More than half of Syria's pre-war population of 22 million have been displaced internally and in neighbouring countries.
At least 350,000 refugees have sought asylum in European countries since the war in Syria began in 2011. Thousands are still pushing towards European countries, which has created a refugee crisis and additional pressure for a solution to be found to the conflict in Syria.