DAMASCUS — The Syrian army has scored “major victories” against rebels and now holds “the balance of power” in the conflict, President Bashar al-Assad has reportedly told a Lebanese TV station.
Assad is also quoted as saying Syria has received the first shipment of an advanced Russian air defence system.
Russia vowed to go ahead with sending S-300 missiles earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the main opposition outside Syria said it would not take part in peace talks while massacres continued.
Speaking in Istanbul where the Syrian National Coalition is meeting, its interim head, George Sabra, said that talk of diplomatic conferences was farcical while Syrian government forces backed by the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah were carrying out heinous crimes.
President Assad’s interview with Hezbollah-linked Al Manar TV was set to be broadcast later today.
In excerpts from the interview published by Lebanon’s pro-Syrian Al Akhbar newspaper, Assad is quoted as saying: “The Syrian army has scored major victories against armed rebels on the ground and the balance of power is now with the Syrian army.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem made similar comments on Wednesday, telling Lebanese media: “Our armed forces have regained the momentum.”
Assad also admits in the interview with Al Manar that Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement are co-operating, or “on the same axis”.
“Hezbollah fighters are deployed along the Lebanese-Syrian borders but the operations are conducted by the Syrian army until the “terrorist” groups are crushed”, he is quoted as saying.
Assad condemns backing for the rebels from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, claiming there are now 100,000 foreign fighters on Syrian soil. (BBC)