In comments made a few hours before the Syrian ceasefire deal was announced, President Bashar al-Assad welcomed the efforts to get peace talks going with moderate rebel forces, while saying that such deals would not distract from the effort to fight terrorist groups.
Ultimately, however, Assad said the goal was to reunite all of Syria, conceding that was a war that was going to take “a long time.” ISIS is believed to hold over half of Syria’s territory still, and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front controls the entire Idlib Province.
Assad conceded that it migyht not be possible to retake the country militarily, but said it “makes no sense” to publicly admit they are planning to give up any part of the country, and that they must continue to present reunification of Syria as their goal.
Assad also addressed the risk of foreign invasion of Syria mid-war,, saying he sees Turkey and Saudi Arabia as particular risks to send troops. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly talked up the idea of sending ground troops into Syria. Assad warned Syria would “confront” invading armies.