Bashar al-Assad says victory in Aleppo “a huge step” in ending the war in Syria 0

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says victory in the battle for the city of Aleppo will be “a huge step” in bringing the war in Syria to an end. Assad said the full liberation of Aleppo in northwestern Syria would deal a huge blow to the regional and international supporters of militant groups, al-Mayadeen television station said, citing an interview with al-Watan newspaper expected to be published on Thursday.

“It’s true that Aleppo will be a win for us, but let’s be realistic, it won’t mean the end of the war in Syria,” Assad said. “But it will be a huge step towards this end.” The Syrian president said in response to a question about the possibility of a ceasefire in Aleppo that such a possibility was “practically non-existent, of course.” “The Americans in particular are insisting on demanding a truce, because their terrorist agents are now in a difficult situation,” Assad said.

Washington would have no more trump cards to show if Aleppo is liberated, the Syrian president stated. Assad said Aleppo was the “last hope” of militants and their supporters, “after their failure in the battles of Damascus and Homs.” The Syrian president said the militants’ defeat in Aleppo would fully change the course of battle in Syria. “The decision to liberate all of Syria is taken and Aleppo is part of it,” al-Mayadeen quoted the president as saying. Assad also stated that Turkey had done its best to protect the militant stronghold in Aleppo, but it has failed.

The Syrian government has been making advances in militant-held areas in eastern Aleppo, with recent reports saying that the military and its allies have managed to retake two-thirds of the territory that used to be under the control of the militants. The conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.