Po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion still first op­tion: As­sad

Otago Daily Times - - WORLD -

BEIRUT: Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al­As­sad said yes­ter­day his gov­ern­ment was still pur­su­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion for Syria’s rebel­held south­west, but would use mil­i­tary force if this failed.

‘‘We are giv­ing the po­lit­i­cal process a chance. If that doesn’t suc­ceed, we have no other op­tion but to lib­er­ate it by force,’’ As­sad said in an in­ter­view with Ira­nian chan­nel alAlam News.

The south­west is one of the re­main­ing parts of Syria still out­side the con­trol of the state af­ter seven years of con­flict. Since last year, a ‘‘de­es­ca­la­tion’’ deal bro­kered by Rus­sia, the United States and Jor­dan has con­tained fight­ing there.

In his in­ter­view, As­sad said that, un­like Rus­sia, Iran did not have any mil­i­tary bases in Syria. But he said if there was ‘‘a need for Ira­nian mil­i­tary bases, we will not hes­i­tate’’.

He said his Syr­ian troops were sup­ported by fight­ers from Iraq, Iran and Le­banon.

Le­banese Shi’ite Mus­lim group Hezbol­lah would re­main un­til ‘‘Hezbol­lah, Iran, or oth­ers be­lieve that ter­ror­ism has been elim­i­nated’’, he said.

‘‘Hezbol­lah is a ba­sic el­e­ment in this war.’’

As­sad said Syria had in­vited Iran and Rus­sia to par­tic­i­pate in the war, but he re­garded Amer­i­can, French, Turk­ish and Is­raeli forces act­ing on Syr­ian ter­ri­tory as oc­cu­py­ing pow­ers. — Reuters

Bashar al­As­sad

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