In his first public address in a year, embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed Sunday to win his country’s long-running civil war while acknowledging his troops have lost territory because of a manpower shortage.
Assad’s speech, while confident, came in the fifth year of a conflict pitting his forces against rebels and hard-line groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey, which has long backed the rebels, has begun striking ISIL and Kurdish fighters battling the group, adding a layer of complexity to a brutal war with no end in sight.
Assad’s speech, televised Sunday morning, given to local dignitaries in the Syrian capital, Damascus, was his first public address since he was sworn in for a third, seven-year term in July last year. Assad has given interviews to several Arab and international media outlets in the meantime.