Dictator Bashar al-Assad, seemingly ignoring President Barack Obama’s push to advance a political solution to the Syrian conflict, has reportedly vowed to “liberate” every inch of Syria.
Addressing the newly elected Syrian Parliament on Tuesday, Assad said he would free Syria in the same way his forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, seized the historic town of Palmyra back from Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in March, marking the regime’s biggest victory against the jihadist group, reports the Associated Press (AP).
He declared that the situation on the ground is much better than it was months ago, saying his government “has no alternative but to be victorious.”
“The scales of war in Syria have tipped in Assad’s favor since Russia began an aerial campaign last September helping the government troops capture wide areas from insurgents,” notes AP.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, the Obama administration has been advocating a “political solution” to the conflict that would involve a transition away from Assad.
“The United States will continue to do everything that we can … to advance a political solution to the Syrian civil war,” declared Obama in April, once again calling for Assad’s removal.
His comments came a day after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the CIA and its allies in the Middle East were preparing for a so-called plan B focused on providing more-powerful weapons to so-called moderate Syrian rebels fighting Assad.
The U.S.-backed Arab and Kurdish alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the bulk of which are members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), are currently advancing towards the town of Manbij, an ISIS stronghold in the northern part of the country, reports AP.
The YPG is the armed unit of the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD), which Turkey, Obama’s Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and some Republican lawmakers have linked to the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The AP reports, “The (SDF) alliance last week launched a wide offensive, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, in a push [to] capture Manbij, which lies on a key supply route linking the Turkish border with the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de-facto capital.”
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the conflict in Syria, the SDF is nearly a mile south of Manbij.
SDF fighters have seized 52 villages and farms since the offensive began, added the monitor group.