Bashar al-Assad’s Message to Troops: ‘No One Is Celebrating the New Year’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited his Syrian troops in Jobar to discuss the damage various anti-government factions have done to the state. Speaking just northeast of Damascus as the beleaguered country entered its fourth year of a civil war, he had little hope to offer his troops.

“No one is celebrating the new year,” he said. “We are in war… If there was an area of joy which remained in Syria, it is thanks to the victories that you achieved in the face of terrorism.”

The president shared pictures on his Twitter and Facebook accounts while state television aired footage from the visit. Al-Assad shook hands, embraced the troops, and joined them for a meal.

Al-Assad’s forces lost Jobar to rebel groups in 2013 but have returned in an attempt to reclaim the region. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed the Syrian Air Force attacked Jobar ten times on Wednesday “as well as strikes by ground missiles against fighters from rebel and Islamic battalions and al Qaeda’s Syria wing, Nusra Front.” The British-based group said 24 government troops died and were wounded in Wednesday’s attack.

The human rights group reported the Syrian troops “fired machine guns,” and “three rockets landed in the area” overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning.

The Syrian Civil War has evolved significantly since 2013 as one jihadist group fighting President Assad, the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), has expanded greatly in the past year. Islamic State jihadists began their expansion after seizing a large Syrian army base in Raqqa. Terrorists released videos of them beheading the soldiers. The victory allowed the militants to capture Raqqa and make it their “capital” of their caliphate.

Over 200,000 died since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. The war killed 76,021 people, almost half of them civilians, in 2014 alone.


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