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Syrian President Bashar al Assad said to military we need time to win battle / Syria Conflict

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the government needs more time to “win the battle” against rebel forces.

Despite a rapidly deteriorating conflict that has left thousands dead in 18 months of violence, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says “the situation is much better.”

“This military is carrying out its duties. The armed forces, the police and the security forces are carrying out heroic duties with every sense,” al-Assad said in an interview to air Wednesday in the pro-government Al-Dounia TV.

The station released snippets of the interview Tuesday.

Al-Assad has consistently said government forces are battling terrorists in the nation — a term the regime uses to describe those seeking the president’s ouster.

“If there’s one Syrian citizen who knows one of these men who is hesitant and has that desire to desert (the terrorist groups), let him encourage him to do so,” he said.

The president said the destiny of Syrians is in their hands, and maintained he remains at the presidential palace in Damascus.

“The battle is a battle of perseverance,” he said. “But we will go over all of this and explain it with one sentence and that is we are moving forward. Realistically, the situation is better.”

Mr Assad said the Syrian government was “fighting a battle both regionally and internationally”.

“It definitely needs time to bring it to a decisive end. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we’re heading forward,” he told al-Dunya. “The situation on the ground is better now, but the conclusion is not there yet. That needs some time.”

Al-Assad rarely gives interviews, but has appeared in public various times. On Sunday, he met with senior Iranian officials in Damascus, but did not give a speech. A week earlier, he attended Eid prayers at a mosque in the capital.

His latest statement comes after a government crackdown on Damascus neighborhoods left hundreds dead in the past few days, according to opposition groups.

After days of carnage in Daraya, violence has shifted to a city farther north. Government forces launched an aerial attack in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, killing 23 people, opposition activists said.

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