Syrian President Bashar Assad said in comments broadcast on Sunday that the success of Russia’s military intervention in his country’s civil war was vital for the whole Middle East.
“The alliance between Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran must succeed or else the whole region will be destroyed,” he said in an interview broadcast by Iran’s Khabar TV, parts of which were aired Sunday
He said that Russian campaign has the potential to succeed because it is supported by Iran and has international, if not western, support. He called on countries that support the armed opposition to stop, which would increase the chances of the campaign to succeed.
Assad’s comments are the first since Russia launched an intensive air campaign against rebel positions in Syria Wednesday, saying it is targeting the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations. Some of the airstrikes hit Western-backed fighters.
Opponents including the United States claim Russian bombing raids are mainly targeting Western-backed moderate opponents of Assad.
“The chances of success for this coalition are great and not insignificant,” Assad said in his interview, according to an extract posted on Twitter, warning that the price Syria’s allies pay “will certainly be high”.
He called on Western countries, which have along with Gulf allies carried out air strikes on IS in Syria since September 2014, to join forces in order to fight extremism.
“If these states join the fight against terrorists in a serious and sincere manner, at least in terms of stopping them getting support, we will achieve results much faster,” Assad said.
Western and Gulf countries insist Assad must step down after presiding over more than four years of civil war.