Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has spoken about the next stages in his country’s long battle against international terrorism.
While ISIS/Daesh has been defeated as a military force in Syria and Iraq, other dangerous Takfiri groups remain, particularly in Idlib Governorate, the Golan Heights and the East Ghouta suburb of Damascus.
While the Syrian Arab Army continues to make steady progress against groups like al-Qaeda’s frequently re-branded al-Nusra terrorist group, the Syrian President has spoken of the dangers of declaring a premature victory.
Bashar al-Assad stated,
“We need to understand that when attention is being focused on the Daesh alone, then this is an attempt to distract attention away from the fact that terrorism still exists with the support of the West. This terrorism is headed by al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).
Daesh is just a part of terrorism. And while there are terrorist organisations like Daesh, al-Nusra and organisations with other names, this means that we are still at war. So the war on terrorism in Syria will be completed when the last terrorist in Syria is eliminated without reference to their name. Then you can really talk about a victory.
Saying that the war is over is not realistic. We are still in the state of war. Of course, we overcame an important step in this war by destroying Daesh, maybe not fully, but by crushing it in its main centres in Syria. This is an important step and a big victory”.
Turning to the post-war political settlement, the Syrian President stated,
“If UN representatives come here to play any role in these elections, this role should be based on the UN Charter, which, in turn, is based on respect for the sovereignty of Syria and the right of its people to self-determination. And therefore, we are not worried about any part they may play. We can even say that we welcome any UN participation. But on one condition, that this capacity should be based on the sovereignty of Syria. Everything outside the scope of this condition will be rejected. It is important that this speech is clear now and in the future”.
This position is in-line with the agreement of the Astana Peace brokers Russia, Iran and Turkey, who have each agreed that respecting Syria’s territorial unity and sovereignty is a requirement in any final peace agreement.