Assad: The War is Turning in Our Favor
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said on Sunday that the war that has torn Syria apart for three years and cost more than 150,000 lives is turning in the government's favor, AFP reported citing the state news agency SANA.
"This is a turning point in the crisis, both militarily in terms of the army's achievements in the war against terror, and socially in terms of national reconciliation processes and growing awareness of the truth behind the (attacks) targeting the country," claimed the embattled president.
Syria's army has made a series of advances in recent months, overrunning opposition bastions near the Lebanese border and in the central province of Homs.
"The state is trying to restore security and stability in the main areas that the terrorists have struck," said Assad, adding, "We will go after their positions and sleeper cells later."
Terrorists is the term commonly used by the Assad regime to describe the rebels who are fighting to oust him.
The comments come several days after Assad predicted, in a conversation with a former Russian prime minister, that much of the fighting in the war will be over by the end of the year.
There is still no political solution in sight for the war, which has caused massive destruction and forced nearly half the Syrian population to flee their homes.
Syrian warplanes on Sunday launched fresh strikes on rebel strongholds on the edge of Damascus, some of which used highly destructive barrel bomb attacks, a monitoring group said, according to AFP.
"Warplanes carried out two air strikes against areas of Douma," northeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that three children and four men were killed in that particular raid.
The raids came as fighting raged on the edges of Daraya between rebels and the army, which for more than a year has battled to secure the capital.
On the economic front, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Sunday a "fierce economic war" was behind the sharp fall in the value of the Syrian pound against the U.S. dollar.
"A fierce economic war ... is being waged against the national economy aimed at destabilizing the Syrian pound," he said, quoted by state news agency SANA.
The pound was trading on Sunday at 176 against the dollar, compared to 156 last week, in a trend which has seen it lose more than three-quarters of its value against the U.S. currency since March 2011.
Assad said on Sunday the country "is not only being targeted because of its geo-political significance... but because of its historic role in the region and its big influence on the Arab street."
Syria, he said, "is subject to a bid to take control of its independent decision-making, and an attempt to change its policy from one that suits the Syrian people's interests, rather than the interests of the United States and the West's interests in the region."
On Sunday, Assad reiterated his belief that Israel "has played a key role in supporting the terrorist groups."
Those comments were made after a Syrian opposition activist called for peace with Israel in an interview with the Walla! Hebrew-language news website.
Buthaina Shaaban, a senior political advisor of Assad's, responded to the comments and said, they were not surprising since, she claimed, "It is known that what is happening in Syria is done through the planning and coordination of [opposition] agents working with Israel."
Last week, the head of the Hezbollah terror group, Hassan Nasrallah, said that Assad’s government was no longer in danger of falling.
Hezbollah has sent fighters to assist Syrian government troops in their battles against the rebels trying to oust Assad from power. The Shiite group's fighters were instrumental in helping Assad's forces dislodge opposition fighters from their strongholds along the Lebanon-Syria border.
The group’s strongholds in Lebanon have been the targets of repeated attacks ever since it acknowledged its support for Assad.