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Assad says West growing weaker in Syria
London (AFP) - President Bashar al-Assad claimed Western powers are "becoming much weaker" in Syria, in a confident interview published in The Sunday Times.
"In the past if I said anything, people would say the Syrian president is disconnected from reality. Now it's different. The West is becoming much weaker," told the British weekly.
"They don't have a leg to stand on explaining to people what's going on.
"Isis (the Islamic State group) was smuggling oil and using Iraqi oilfields under American satellites and drones to make money, and the West was not saying anything.
"Whereas here the Russians interfered and Isis started to shrink in every sense of the word."
Assad acknowledged the key role played by Russian airstrikes, saying: "What made the difference, of course, was firepower. They have firepower we don't have."
He added: "At the end we were fighting an unlimited reserve of terrorists coming to Syria and we struggled, so Russian firepower and Iranian support has compensated."
However, he said of the Russians: "They never try to interfere because they don't want anything from us. They don't ask us to be a puppet president."
Assad also confirmed his determination to crush rebel forces in Aleppo, the one-time economic powerhouse that has been under a three-month government siege.
"Aleppo is an issue where terrorists have occupied part of the city, and we need to get rid of them," he said.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted with anti-government protests in March 2011, and the situation for civilians in Aleppo is particularly dire.
Asked if he could sleep with the knowledge of the children being killed every day in Aleppo and elsewhere, Assad laughed and said: "I know the meaning of that question.
"I sleep regular, I sleep and work and eat normal and do sports."
Cook, Haseeb ready for England _ if series starts in India
RAJKOT, India (AP) — Alastair Cook is on the cusp of a test record as England captain. Hameed Haseeb is on the precipice of a test debut.If the India vs. England test series starts Wednesday, those milestones will go into the records. There's no guarantee the series will start as scheduled, though, because of a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the country's Supreme Court.The BCCI filed a late plea in the Supreme Court to release funds for hosting this five-test… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 3/5
Trung Son Hydropower Plant synchronized national power gridThe turbine group No.3 of Trung Son Hydropower Plant was officially generated power and successfully synchronized with national power grid system. The powerhouse is located at Trung Son commune, Quan Hoa district in Thanh Hoa province which includes four generating units with a total capacity of 260 MW and an annual output of 1,018 billion kilowatts. It is also the first hydropower plant of Vietnam funded by the World Bank (WB). After… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Fears over Germany's growing jihadist scene
Berlin (AFP) - Berlin's Christmas market truck rampage was the deadly jihadist attack Germany had long feared, as security services have warned of the growth of a shadowy Islamist scene.Rarely a week has gone by in past years without the arrest of a radical preacher, an extremist backing the Islamic State or other extremist groups with money, arms or propaganda, or of a fighter returning from Syria or Iraq.Germany's domestic security chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, has likened the rise in IS… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Iraq records largest displacement of Mosul operation
Baghdad (AFP) - More than 3,300 fleeing Iraqis sought help from the government on day nine of its offensive to retake Mosul, the most for a single day so far, a minister said Wednesday.The number is far short of the hundreds of thousands that aid agencies have been bracing for but the offensive is still in its early stages and many more are expected to flee as troops approach the city itself.On Tuesday, there was "a big wave of displaced people that is considered the greatest number since the… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Italy's premier hospitalized, reported in good condition
ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni was reported in good condition Wednesday after undergoing angioplasty surgery upon his return from a bilateral meeting in Paris.Gentiloni's office confirmed he was hospitalized at Rome's Gemelli hospital, but wouldn't comment on the nature of the illness. The news agency ANSA said Gentiloni had undergone angioplasty surgery on a peripheral blood vessel Tuesday evening, and was in good condition and alert.The 62-year-old Gentiloni took over as premier… chat_bubble_outline Read More...