An analyst says the “strong, well-trained and well-equipped” Syrian army; one of the Middle East region’s biggest armies undeniably has the upper hand in the battle with the foreign-backed militants.
The comment comes as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says army forces have gained “upper hand” in the battle with the foreign-backed militants.
“The army has a very large lead on the ground and has achieved significant gains,” Assad said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published on Monday.
He further said the Syrian army could even win the battle against the militants if Turkey stopped supporting them.
“If the Turkish border was closed to tackle the smuggling of arms and militants, this matter would be resolved in only two weeks.”
Press TV has conducted an interview with Damascus-based journalist Ala’a Ibrahim to further discuss the issue. What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Ibrahim what is basically in the way then of that Geneva agreement? It was of course an agreement that was reached between members of the international community; both the US and Russia but what stopped that agreement from working. What do you see as the main stumbling rock?
Ibrahim: Well, there are many players in the Syrian crisis right now. We all know that Turkey is involved in arming the insurgents and has been so for the past two years. We all know that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are involved knee-high in providing financial media and logistic support for the insurgents.
So these countries who have paid a great deal of money so far, these countries who have invested according to them a lot of money in the Syrian revolution as they call it, they’re not willing to forfeit any possible gains they might get out in any future settlement.
Obviously because the opposition has not been able to achieve any substantial field achievement on the ground they have been able to take some bases but they haven’t been able to advance substantial gain in terms of controlling an area.
In a sense that they have full control over a certain area and they can not only operate freely in it but they can keep the Syrian army out of this area, the opposition has not been able to do so as a result they can’t enforce anything in a political settlement because they don’t have the field achievements that would be translated in a political settlement.
As a result these countries Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia think that maybe if they push some more, maybe if they give some more money their insurgents will be able to some kind of field development, some kind of development in the battlefield, in combat and that will enable them to have some gains in any upcoming political settlement.
Press TV: Mr. Ibrahim, quickly if you can before we leave you would you say from the situation on the ground that the army does have the upper hand that basically the government has the upper hand when it comes to the fight with the insurgents because other reports or some media are saying that Bashar Assad looks like he’s going to fall. What’s your conclusion?
Ibrahim:Obviously the army has the upper hand. We have to put this in context the Syrian government has a strong well-trained army, one of the biggest armies in the Middle East; it’s very well equipped. So it’s obvious that it would have the upper hand. I wouldn’t care much about the media reports about the Syrian army losing ground in some areas.
I would say that when the army puts its mind into something, when the army decides to take or retake a certain area they are capable of doing this. We have seen examples in Homs, in Bab Amro, we have seen examples in parts of Aleppo, we have seen examples in many places but this does not mean that the Syrian army is invincible as the time goes on the Syrian army is losing martyrs in this battle and a political settlement is necessary even for the government, even though they have the upper hand but it’s necessary to cut down on the military losses.