"He hit me and cried and ran and complained first"
|Assad being interviewed for Al-Manar TV|
The first thing that sprung to my mind on reading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s remark about Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia having sent in “100,000 Arab and foreign terrorists” to Syria to fight his regime was the old Arab adage “ضربنى وبكى سبقنى وأشتكى” -- or “He hit me and cried and ran and complained first.”
His remark comes in a television interview to be aired this evening on Al-Manar, the television channel of Iran’s Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which has thousands of men fighting alongside his troops across Syria. No less than 7,000 of them are taking part in the regime offensive on the rebel-held town of Qusayr.
Assad makes no mention in the interview of their number or the total of other Shiite fighters from Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon helping him crush the Syrian opposition. Nor does he speak of Russian advisors or of Iranian arms supplies, logistical support and funding to his government.
In excerpts from the interview published by Lebanon's al-Akhbar newspaper, which speaks for the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance, Assad is quoted as saying: "The Syrian army has scored major victories against armed rebels on the ground and the balance of power is now with the Syrian army."
He admits Syria and Hezbollah are co-operating, being "part of the same Axis (of Resistance in tandem with Iran).”
"Hezbollah fighters are deployed along the Lebanon-Syria borders but the Syrian army is the one fighting and leading operations against the armed gangs. This will continue until the terrorist groups are crushed", al-Akhbar quotes him as saying.
Assad is also quoted as saying Syria has received the first shipment of the advanced Russian S-300 air defense system “and the rest of the shipment will follow shortly.”
Delivery of the S-300s raises fears of tension with Israel, as Assad is also reported to have threatened to respond directly if Israel launches any further airstrikes on Syria.
He also said, “The Syrian government will not stand in the way of any Syrian groups that want to wage a war of resistance to liberate the Golan."
On the proposed Geneva-2 talks with the opposition, Assad is quoted as telling Al-Manar the Damascus government would attend in principle but doubts the meeting will yield results.