Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has described the main opposition National Coalition as a “failure”, adding that it can have no role in ending the country’s war.
Syria’s crisis will only be solved by stamping out “terror”, Assad said on Sunday, in reference to rebels fighting his regime.
“This opposition is not reliable, it is a failure at the popular and moral levels, and it has no role in solving the crisis, because it only seeks to make gains,” Assad said in a rare speech televised on Syrian state TV.
In the remarks given after a dinner marking the holiest day in the month of Ramadan, Assad said any efforts towards a political solution should be combined with continued military operations.
“That does not mean that there cannot be parallel tracks. There is no reason why we shouldn’t strike terror while at the same time working politically,” he added.
“I don’t think that any sane human being would think that terrorism can be dealt with via politics.”
In March 2011, a widespread peaceful protest movement calling for political change in Syria emerged.
In response, the government attempted to crush the dissent by force.
The movement later turned violent with armed rebels fighting Syrian government troops. More than 100,000 people on both sides have been killed, according to the UN.
The war has also forced millions to flee their homes, while plunging Syria into an unprecedented economic crisis.
In his latest speech, Assad also said Syria’s economic woes “are linked to the security situation, and they can only be solved by striking terror”.
Meanwhile, the president stressed the need for the army to fight on against the rebellion.
“It is true that there is a battle being fought in the media and on [the internet], but the crisis will only be solved on the battlefield,” Assad said in his 45-minute address.
Assad’s comments come amid faltering efforts to push forward a US-Russian proposal for peace talks dubbed Geneva 2, which would see regime representatives and the opposition gathering for negotiations.
The Syrian president accused the Coalition of “being on the payroll of more than one Gulf country”, and of “blaming the [Syrian] state for terrorism rather than blaming the armed men”, or rebels.