News / Middle East

Syria's Assad: Government Facing 'Global Battle'

A grab from Addounia pro-regime Syrian TV shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking during an excerpt of an interview in Damascus, August 29, 2012.
A grab from Addounia pro-regime Syrian TV shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking during an excerpt of an interview in Damascus, August 29, 2012.
Edward YeranianMark Snowiss
CAIRO — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday his government is fighting a "regional and global battle" and that more time is needed to win the conflict against rebels trying to overthrow him.

His comments came as renewed fighting broke out between rebels and Syrian forces near the Taftanaz military airport, located between the northern cities of Aleppo and Idlib.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA that 14 government troops were killed or injured in fierce fighting at Taftanaz, while three rebels died during the clashes. The group also says anti-government fighters damaged three to five helicopters at the airport.

Taftanaz has been targeted several times by rebels entrenched in the two cities, which have suffered daily shelling by government troops.

  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, takes refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 23, 2012.
  • Syrian refugees after the medical check at a Moroccan military field hospital in Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 10, 2012.
  • A Syrian refugee boy carries toys, clothes and pocket money received by Muslim children on the first day of Eid al-Fitr holiday, at Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 19, 2012.
  • Syrian refugee children run while carrying traditional gifts of toys and clothes they received from individual donors and international organizations on the first day the Muslim holiday of Eid al- Fitr at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 1
  • Syrian refugees wait outside a clinic at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 16, 2012.
  • Syrian girl, Raghad Hussein, 3, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, stands by her family's makeshift tent, near Azaz, Syria, Aug. 26, 2012.
  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, looks back while checking her laundry, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 26, 2012.
  • An elderly Syrian man, who fled his home due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, takes refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 23, 2012.
  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, sleeps by her family's belongings, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 23, 2012.

Comments signal long fight

In excerpts from an interview with Syria's privately-owned Addounia television, Assad described the situation on the ground as "practically better" but "not yet decided - that takes time."

It was Assad's first interview since the explosion that tore through a government compound about six weeks ago, killing and wounding a handful of top aides.

The Syrian leader, who has vowed to defeat rebels he has characterized as Islamist terrorists, praised the army and security forces for their "heroic conduct."

"Despite several mistakes, there is a strong bond" between the government and the Syrian people, Assad insisted, boasting the support of the majority of the population.

"Everyone is worried about their country, that is normal. But [opposition rebels] will not be able to spread fear, they never will," he said.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, said the Syrian president appeared to be giving a pep talk to his loyal supporters, both at home and abroad. He added that Assad wants to appear determined and firm as a non-aligned summit in Tehran is preparing to debate how to solve the conflict in Syria.

Turkey Presses UN

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday that Ankara has discussed with the United Nations the possibility of housing Syrian refugees inside Syria and that his government expected the world body to take concrete steps towards this end.

Turkey has proposed the idea of a "safe zone" to be set up for civilians under foreign protection as fighting intensifies in the 17-month uprising. Up to 5,000 refugees a day have been crossing into Turkey during the past two weeks.

The U.N. warned Tuesday that up to 200,000 people could settle there if the conflict worsens.

A Turkish aid official said about 80,000 refugees are registered in camps along the country's 900-kilometer-long border with Syria and that new camps will increase this capacity to 120,000 within the next 10 days. Turkey's leaders have repeatedly said their refugee capacity stands at about 100,000.

But in Wednesday's interview, Assad dismissed the idea of creating buffer zones within Syria.

"Talk of buffer zones firstly is not on the table, and secondly it is an unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria," said Assad.

"Will we go backwards because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials?" he asked. "[The Turkish people] have stood by us during the crisis.''

The two countries once cultivated good relations, but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned against Assad over his violent response to the uprising.

The United Nations refugee agency has called for increased international assistance to help Turkey and Jordan cope with the surge in the number of Syrian refugees seeking shelter.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Tuesday the number of Syrians fleeing to Jordan had doubled in the past week, compared to the previous week, with 10,200 arriving.

An agency spokeswoman said the new arrivals at the Za'atri camp in northern Jordan are mainly from Syria's southern flashpoint area of Daraa.

Battles near Damascus

In Damascus, activists reported a third straight day of army attacks on rebel strongholds in the eastern outer belt of the city, referred to as East Ghuta.

The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground, said warplanes and helicopters bombed and strafed all the East Ghuta suburbs, while the Britain-based Observatory reported attacks by combat helicopters on the eastern suburb of Saqba as well as shelling further into the city in the district of Zamalka.

Increased attacks in and around Damascus over the past week have killed hundreds of people, including at least 320 in a single suburb Saturday, according to opposition groups.

Activists monitoring the violence report the death of 100 to 250 or more Syrians on daily basis, but these figures are impossible to independently verify.

On Tuesday, the Syrian military dropped thousands of leaflets over Damascus and its suburbs, urging rebels to hand over their weapons or be killed.

Syrian authorities blame the uprising on a foreign conspiracy and accuse oil-rich Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in addition to the United States and Turkey, of backing "terrorists" seeking to oust Assad's government.

Rights groups say at least 20,000 people have been killed since the insurrection broke out in March last year, while the United Nations says more than 214,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

Mark Snowiss contributed from Washington

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: umish from: USA
August 29, 2012 1:28 PM
Bashir is only doing what Russia, China, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Iran and a myriad of other dictator lead countries have done in the past to preserve their time in power. No one yells about China, nor Russia,;...... to big of bullies to make a difference. Burma... how many years of military junta did they have, Cuba... duh..... and as for the african countries... no different.. so why pick on Assad... Fair is fair.. let him do whatever he wants to his country just as china does, russia does, burma does, cuba does,...... let him suffer the consequences alone.


by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
August 29, 2012 12:03 PM
Assad is facing a global battle because he has become a global outcast. His illusions of remaining in power with a wholesale murder and mayhem of the majority of Syrians who oppose him are bound to crash at some point, and from that point on he will have an uncertain future, or he will meet his fate. Amen!

In Response

by: Anon
August 29, 2012 1:36 PM
@Nikos: BS, The war there is all because Syria refused to sign the IMF agreement, period. Assad is just protecting his sovereign country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid