The Washington Post reports: Fresh from a major victory over Islamic State militants, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday expressed support for peace talks next month in Geneva but still firmly rejected the opposition’s key demands.
In an interview with Russian media, the embattled leader discussed his vision for eventual reconstruction from a devastating civil war and his desire to let Moscow, a key ally, maintain an indefinite military presence in Syria.
Assad’s comments come just days after his forces drove Islamic State extremists out of Palmyra. Seizing the archaeologically rich city was a big success for his government and its foreign military backers, most notably Russia, which bombed the militants in the desert city.
In his remarks, Assad appeared buoyed by that battlefield win, strongly dismissing as “illogical and unconstitutional” the idea of forming a transitional government to end a civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people, displaced millions and fueled the rise of the Islamic State. [Continue reading…]