TEL AVIV – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday thanked allies Iran, Hezbollah and Russia for helping him overcome what he described as Western attempts to oust him and added that he would not be restoring diplomatic ties with countries that support “terrorist” opposition groups in Syria.
Russia, Hezbollah and Iran’s “direct support — politically, economically, and militarily — has made possible bigger advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war,” Assad said during a televised address.
He added that it was too early to claim victory and “the battle continues.”
Assad slammed Western nations, including the U.S. and most European nations, which shut down their embassies in Damascus in 2011, and vowed that they would not see ties restored with Syria until they ceased their support for “terrorists” in the embattled country. He said that when his country stabilizes he will turn to the east for political, economic and cultural relations.
He lambasted the U.S. proposal for safe zones, saying they would only provide “cover for the terrorists.”
Assad said that Damascus “has an interest” in supporting Moscow-brokered ceasefires.
Addressing the Palestinian issue, he said it “is still a key issue from our point of view,” and added that “Israel is still the enemy that occupies our lands.”
“Syria still supports all resistance groups in the region,” he said.