President Bashar al-Assad said Syrian rebels “will not be victorious” in their fight against his government, adding that the “door to dialogue remains open”.
In comments to the Egyptian weekly magazine Al-Ahram Al-Araby, published in the Friday edition, Assad said “the armed groups exercise terrorism against the state. They are not popular within society ... they will not be victorious in the end”.
Speaking from his office in al-Rawda District in the heart of Damascus, Assad added that “change cannot be achieved through foreign intervention”.
He has also hit out at Turkey and some Arab states, accusing them of arming Syrian rebels but insisting they will not win.
“The widespread idea that Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt are the cornerstone of stability in the region is false. It has always been, and will remain, Syria, Iraq and Egypt,” Assad told Al-Ahram al-Arabi, which put excerpts from the interview on its website on Thursday.
Assad, whose country is in the throes of a brutal civil war, said that “the West does not appreciate the axis of resistance against Zionism advocated by Syria.”
The “axis of resistance” is a term used to refer to Syria, Iran and the Islamist Hezbollah movement in Lebanon against Israel.
Assad said Qatar “uses the power of money and revolves in the orbit of the West by providing weapons and money to terrorists to repeat the scenario of Libya,” where Muammar Qaddafi’s regime was toppled in a bloody revolt last year.
The Syrian president criticized Turkey as well, a former close ally turned bitter foe that has called repeatedly for him to step down.
Ankara was unconcerned “about the interests of its people, focusing solely on its ambitions that include ‘the new Ottoman empire’,” Assad said.
Assad reiterated that “armed men” were “using terrorism against the Syrian state,” but that they “have no support among the people. Ultimately they will not emerge victorious.”
Syrian officials refer to the rebels battling the regime as “terrorists.”
“It will take time” for regime forces to win, he said, adding that the “door to dialogue is open -- only talks with the opposition will solve the crisis.”
At least 70 people were killed when an air strike hit a fuel station in the northern province of al-Raqqa on Thursday. Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old conflict.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met Assad on Saturday in his first visit to Damascus as peace envoy. Brahimi told Reuters his visit “confirmed that the situation is extremely dangerous and escalating”.
Assad said in the interview he was “neither optimistic nor pessimistic” about Brahimi’s mission.