People walk near a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hanging in a street in the Syrian capital Damascus on May 31, 2018. (AFP photo)
DAMASCUS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that his administration has nearly won the seven-year-long war in Syria as the army has made major progress in the fight against the rebels, noting that the West tries to prolong the crisis with every Syrian victory.
"With every move forward for the Syrian army, and for the political process ..., our enemies and our opponents, mainly the West led by the United States and their puppets in Europe and in our region, try to make it farther, either by supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists to Syria, or by hindering the political process," Assad told Russia Today in an interview released on Thursday.
The president has noted that if it wasn't for the foreign support to the rebels in Syria, the militants could have been defeated within a year.
He said that the claims of chemical weapons use by the rebels and their Western backers are part of the desperate measures undertaken by the West to prolong the war as the conflict is getting closer to an end with the Syrian army determining to recapture all rebel-held areas in Syria.
Assad said the public opinion around the world didn't buy the Western narrative about the chemical weapons' use by the government forces, noting that the West couldn't back down on their allegations so they had to strike Syria, in reference to the U.S.-led missile strikes on Syrian sites on April 14.
The president, however, said that Russia's threats to strike the bases of the missile launchers targeting Syria have pushed the West to make their strikes limited, otherwise it could have been a country-wide offensive by the United States and its Western backers.
After the advance of the Syrian army, as well as the unreliable nature of opposition forces, the U.S. administration has started losing its "cards" and could be brought to the negotiation table, Assad believes.
"Our challenge is how we can close this gap between their plans and our plans," Assad said.
He said it's the duty of the army to liberate all of Syria because "this is our land, it's our right and our duty to liberate it and the Americans should leave somehow they are going to leave."
About the Israelis threats to Assad and his government, the president said the Israeli remarks and threats are a sign of their "panic" because the rebels they are backing in Syria are losing.
Regarding the repetitive Israeli airstrikes on Syria and ways to stop them, Assad said that the foreign-backed "terrorists" have from the beginning aimed at destroying the Syrian air defenses. "This is a proof that Israel was in direct link with those terrorists in Syria."
Assad said the militants destroyed big parts of the Syrian air defenses throughout the crisis, noting that "now, our air defenses are much stronger than before thanks to the Russian support."
He said the recent attacks by the United States and Israel on Syria proved that the air defenses are in a "better situation."
The president said the only option to respond to the Israeli attacks is by improving the air defenses and "we are doing that."
In response to claims that Israel only targets Iranian forces in Syria, Assad said that there are no Iranian troops in Syria but "we have Iranian officers who work with the Syrian army as a help they (Iranians) don't have troops."
He stressed that the Israeli allegations are a lie, noting that Syrian soldiers were killed in the Israeli strikes, not Iranians.