Syrian FM claims rebels no match for military
BEIRUT – Syria’s foreign minister defiantly dismissed rebel forces and their international backers on Thursday as incapable of toppling the military defending Bashar Assad’s regime, even as condemnation grew over expanded offensives that activists say have claimed dozens of civilian lives in recent days.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem’s confident tone contrasted sharply with a series of recent blows to Assad, including high-level military and political defections and the ability of rebel guerrillas to stage bombings and abductions in the heart of the capital, Damascus.
The timing of al-Moallem’s interview on Syrian state TV also suggested attempts to reassure Assad’s supporters at a time when Damascus has few reliable allies remaining. Iran stands firmly behind Assad, but the critical bonds are with U.N. Security Council members China and Russia, which have blocked efforts to impose sanctions and other measures to pressure Syria.
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