Syria's President Bashar Assad said Sunday that the air campaign by Russia against "terrorists" in his country must succeed or the whole region will be destroyed, stressing that the fight against terrorism must precede a political process. In the interview with Iran's Khabar TV, Assad also accused Western nations of fueling the refugee crisis and said the US-led coalition to fight ISIS will only spark more instability in his country and region. These were Assad's first comments since Russia launched its air campaign in Syria Wednesday. While ISIS controls large swaths of eastern Syria, the Russian attacks have largely focused on the northwestern and central provinces—the gateways to the heartland of Assad's power in the capital and on the Mediterranean coast.
Assad said the Russian campaign has the potential to succeed because it is supported by Iran and has international, if not Western, support. "It must succeed or we are facing the destruction of a whole region, and not a country or two," he said. "The chances for success are large, not small." He said the Russian intervention is open-ended, and was planned in cooperation with the Syrian military. Assad said combatting terrorism is "the basis for any solution in Syria. The only solution for us is to strike at terrorism," and that the US-led coalition against ISIS has failed to achieve any results. "What is for certain is that the Western officials are lost, lack clarity of vision, and are feeling the failure of their plots (toward Syria)," he said. "The only goal that was realized ... is the destruction of much infrastructure in Syria, shedding lots of blood."