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In an interview with Iran's Khabar television station, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he has no plans to negotiate with Western-backed groups opposed to his government and said his only option now is to "destroy terrorism."
"Implementing any solution or any political ideas that might be agreed on will need a state of stability," he said, as reported by the SANA news agency Sunday. "Otherwise it has no value. Consequently, destroying terrorism is the foundation of any action in Syria. Political ideas can be implemented later." Assad usually describes any of the government's armed opponents as "terrorists," The Washington Post reports. "Terrorists do not fight for political reform," he said. "They fight because they want money or because they have a perverted doctrine, or because they want to have a role in a state that becomes another state's client." Western officials, he added, are "in a state of confusion and their vision lacks clarity."
Assad said he is participating in talks for an Iranian-backed peace initiative, and will continue to send representatives to talks sponsored by Russia. Syrian opposition groups say they, not Islamic State, have been the main targets of a Russian air campaign that started last week, and that they will not take part in any of the initiatives because they do not include an exit date for Assad, the Post reports. On Saturday, Munzer Khaddam, the media spokesman for the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, was detained at a government checkpoint near Damascus, with his family telling Agence France-Presse it was due to comments he made against the Russian intervention. His whereabouts, they said, are currently unknown.
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