Assad vows to continue offensive despite peace talks

Syrian regime leader says his so-called support for peace talks aiming to end conflict does not mean his regime would stop offensive on 'terrorism,' referring also Western-backed opposition

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A boy carries two children as he evacuates them from a site hit by a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo’s al-Fardous district

Updated Feb 13, 2016

Syrian peace negotiations will not stop the regime forces in fighting, said Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad on Thursday, adding that Turkish and Saudi intervention might worsen the five-year conflict, which so far has killed more than 250,000 people.

Speaking to AFP news agency in an interview, Assad said that he supported the peace talks, but it doesn’t mean he would “fight against terrorism,” referring to moderate oppositions.


Moderate opposition groups are backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the US and Western allies.

UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, halted the Geneva peace talks after the Syrian regime -backed by Russian air strikes- advanced against opposition forces north of Aleppo, choking opposition supply lines from Turkey to the city.

De Mistura announced a three-week pause to February 25 in the talks, the first attempt in two years to negotiate an end to Syria's war.

And the regime kept hitting oppositions-held areas, amid the ongoing peace talks, despite all warnings from international arena to prevent harming the talks. 

Furthermore, he said that he would possibly “put an end to this problem [referring to the conflict] in less than a year,” signalling he might speed up the attacks on oppositions fighting against his regime.

However, he said his attempt to push down the opposition groups might take long and incur a heavy price, if opposition supply routes from Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq are not cut.

Syrian regime forces -backed by Russian air strikes- intensified their campaign on opposition-held areas around Aleppo. Aid workers have said the city - Syria's largest before the war - could soon fall.

Aleppo offensive under way

The regime leader also said that a major Russian-backed offensive is under way in the northern province of Aleppo, which mainly aims to cut the supply route from Turkey to the moderate opposition.

The offensive in Aleppo has been the main focus for the Syrian regime in recent weeks.

Regime forces have already encircled opposition-held areas in eastern parts of the city.

"The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey,” said the regime leader.

The Aleppo operation has raised the fears of a possible regime siege in the city which would cause starvation for local people. And thousands of people started to flee from their homes to Turkey, contributing to the already biggest refugee flow since World War Two.

Some 35,000 Syrian refugees have arrived at the Turkish border, near the southern city of Kilis since last week and are being accommodated at camps on the Syrian side of the border, a Turkish official said.

The official also said a possible offensive in Aleppo could trigger around 600,000 more refugees to flee to Turkey.

Syrian children walk on rubble after their building partially collapsed following clashes in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Assad blames EU for refugee influx

The regime leader, Assad, has blamed European countries for the refugee influx and criticised the sanction they imposed on the Syrian regime.

“European governments have been a direct cause for the emigration of these people [refugees fleeing war], by giving cover to terrorists in the beginning and through sanctions imposed on Syria, to help in making the Syrians return to their country,” said Assad.

"I would like to ask every person who left Syria to come back."

TRTWorld and agencies