Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, complaining of foreign interference in his country’s four-year civil war, said he would not permit international observers for any future elections.
"Elections under international supervision? No, that is an intervention into Syrian sovereignty," Assad said in an interview broadcast Tuesday by Al-Manar TV, which the Hezbollah militant group operates. The Associated Press reported him as adding, "Which is the international body that is authorized to give us a certificate of good conduct?"
Assad, interviewed in the presidential office in Damascus, also said a resolution to the Syrian conflict will come only when foreign countries halt what he sees as efforts to undermine his government.
"When we reach the stage when the countries indulging in the conspiracy against Syria and also indulging in Syrian bloodshed – when these countries stop funding terrorism, then we can say that we have reached the final part of the solution," Assad was quoted by Reuters.
Syrian officials routinely use the word "terrorism" in reference to anyone who opposes the government, including rebel fighters who have battled Syrian forces throughout the civil war.
International calls for a halt to the fighting in Syria and for a political transition with new elections so far have failed to end the conflict, which has killed more than 240,000 people since March 2011.
Assad also criticized the United States, which has given support to Syrian rebels, saying its leaders cannot be trusted to stand by their positions. By contrast, he praised ally Russia and its ongoing effort to try to revive the long-stalled peace process.
Russia has proposed a coalition that would have the Syrian government team with regional states to combat the Islamic State group. But Assad cast doubts on its likelihood, saying such a coalition could not include countries that had backed Syrian rebels in fighting him.
Assad couldn’t imagine "that states which stood with terrorism would be the states that will fight terrorism," Reuters reported him saying. He was referring to governments such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have backed Syrian rebels seeking to topple him.
The last peace talks for Syria, brokered by the United Nations, ended in early 2014. The crisis began as peaceful protests against the Assad government before spiraling into a larger conflict.
Islamic State militants have further complicated the situation, while Syria's neighbors have struggled to cope with the influx of millions of refugees who fled the fighting.
Some material for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.