Syrian War to Be Over in 'Less Than a Year,' Assad Says

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that he believes his nation's ongoing war will be over soon.

Speaking to British newspaper Mail Online in a partially filmed interview published by Syrian state media on Sunday, Assad voiced his view that the war in Syria will come to an end in "less than a year." Continuing, he said that his army will take back "every inch" of the country, claiming that he has the "support" of his people.

The Syrian leader also pointed fingers at the West for prolonging the conflict, suggesting that the United States, the United Kingdom and France have supported "terrorists" in his country.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an exclusive interview with AFP in the capital Damascus on February 11, 2016. Assad has said that he believes his nation’s ongoing war will be over soon. JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images

"We were about to achieve reconciliation in the southern part of Syria only two weeks ago, but the West interfered and asked the terrorists not to follow this path in order to prolong the Syrian conflict," Assad said, Al Jazeera reported.

"We are fighting the terrorists," Assad said, arguing that the armed groups are "supported by the British government, the French government and the American [government]" as well as their "puppets in our region."

When pressed about Russian involvement with the conflict, Assad said that no foreign government dictates his government's actions.

"We've had good relations with Russia for more than six decades now, nearly seven decades. They never, during our relation, try to dictate, even if there are differences," he said. Assad admitted that he has had disagreements with Russia and Iran— which also supports the Syrian army—throughout the seven-year conflict.

"That's very natural, but at the end the only decision about what's going on in Syria and what's going to happen, it's a Syrian decision," Assad said.

The leader also responded to allegations that Russia has started coordinating with Israel in regards to strikes against targets in Syria. Assad said that this is "not true" and that Moscow had no prior knowledge of any attacks.

"Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that's [a] contradiction," he said. "How could they help the Syrian army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?"

The Israelis have carried out numerous attacks in Syria in recent months, primarily targeting the Iranian forces stationed in the country as well as its allies, the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Iran and Hezbollah have been widely seen as instrumental to bolstering the success of Assad's forces throughout the war. At the same time, both groups are openly hostile toward Israel, and the Israeli military has preemptively struck when it feels threatened by their presence close to its border.

Israeli energy minister and cabinet member Yuval Steinitz recently appeared to threaten that his nation could kill Assad if necessary to stop Iran. "If Syrian President Bashar Assad continues allowing the Iranians to operate out of Syria, it would be the end of him, the end of his regime," Steinitz said last month.

In the new interview, Assad also blasted the American and British governments for "interfering" with his nation's sovereignty. At the same time, when asked about his time in London as a medical student, he admitted there were things he missed about the city. The Syrian leader's wife is also a British citizen.

Despite his criticism of Western governments, Assad said his nation is "ready" to cooperate if they "change" their "political position."

Syrian War to Be Over in 'Less Than a Year,' Assad Says | World