Syria's Bashar al-Assad addressed his country's new parliament on Tuesday, and he sounded very much like a confident ruler with no plans to step down. “Just like we liberated Palmyra and many other areas before it, we are going to liberate each and every inch of Syria from their hands,” he said, referring both to the Islamic State and US-backed insurgents fighting him separately, per USA Today. The defiant speech comes in the wake of the collapse of peace talks in Geneva, which failed in part because Assad rejected a rebel demand that he give up power. Some related coverage of the speech:
- Al-Jazeera: "Assad's comments were a far cry from remarks he made last July when he conceded that his army was facing a series of setbacks on the battlefield and was being forced to relinquish certain areas. However, the scales of war have tipped in Assad's" favor.
- Washington Post: "His tough words came amid indications that Russia is preparing to reengage in the war in support of Assad. ... The violence has already been ticking up, with government and Russian warplanes conducting air raids over northern Syria in the past week and rebels launching an offensive to recapture territory south of the city of Aleppo."
- New York Times: "Assad’s defiance was notable partly because of efforts in recent months by Secretary of State John Kerry and other leaders of a 17-nation collaboration, known as the International Syria Support Group, to set a series of deadlines and limits that Syria could not violate. Every one of the directives has been broken."
- Middle East Eye: "During the speech, Assad also appeared to harden his position on UN-sponsored peace talks, saying that Syria will be ruled by a 'unity government'—not a 'transitional governing body' without Assad as president, a central demand of the opposition."
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