World Bulletin / News Desk
President Bashar al-Assad said Syrian rebels would not be victorious in their fight against his government although the "door to dialogue remains open".
In comments to the Egyptian weekly magazine Al-Ahram Al-Araby, to be published on Friday, Assad said "the armed groups exercise terrorism against the state. They are not popular within society ... they will not be victorious in the end".
At least 54 people were killed when an air strike hit a fuel station in Syria's northern province of al-Raqqa on Thursday. Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old conflict.
Speaking from his office in the heart of Damascus, Assad said "change cannot be achieved through foreign intervention".
"Both sides of the equation are equal and political dialogue is the only solution. Violence, however, is not allowed ... and the state will not stand with its hands tied in the face of those who bear arms against it," Assad was quoted as saying.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met Assad on Saturday in his first visit to Damascus as peace envoy. Brahimi said his visit confirmed that the situation was "extremely dangerous and escalating".
Assad said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic about Brahimi's mission.
"I welcome dialogue with the national opposition but those who choose arms have put themselves in confrontation with the Syrian Arab army," said Assad, who admitted there was corruption and mistakes had been made.
Assad's rule structure draws mainly on his Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, while the opposition is largely from the Sunni Muslim majority, enjoying the support of Sunni leaders who rule nearly all Arab states.
Criticising Qatar and Saudi Arabia for siding against him, Assad accused the Gulf states of trying to create a regional role for themselves by fuelling chaos in Syria and other Arab countries.
"Those have suddenly become wealthy after very long period of poverty," Assad said of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "They imagine they can use their wealth to buy the geography, history and a regional role.
"Bringing down the governments of the Arab world has not worked in the interest of freedom, democracy or ending social injustice as much as it helped create chaos."
Assad also criticised Turkey, regarded as a key player in supporting Syria's opposition, for calling for the demise of Assad's government. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also demanded that Assad step down.
Russia and China, staunch supporters of Assad, have vetoed proposed U.N. Security Council resolutions meant to put pressure on the Syrian leader and China has repeatedly said it opposes forceful foreign intervention.
The ship, named Gamal Abdel Nasser, left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire on France's Atlantic coast on June 12.
U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura hopes peace talks can resume in July, but has warned they cannot proceed “while hostilities are escalating and civilians are starving”.
Both men were simultaneously visiting the European Union’s main governmental headquarters to talk with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Turkey and U.S.-led coalition strike 34 ISIL targets in northern Syria, military says
Group will secure city, maintain safety of civilians, Central Command says
Agreement to be finalized Sunday; Israel security cabinet to approve deal next week, Israeli dailies report
“We offer our thanks to Turkey and its authority for its insistence that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza Strip,” Hamas political leader says
Turkish military also hits PKK extremists positions in northern Iraq
Striking Assad ‘stops short of a war against a sovereign nation that is being backed by Russia and Iran,' White House says
Israel deliberately denies Palestinians control over their water sources and sets the ground for water domination.
Fishman said that such a plan is supported by the Arab countries, including Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia and that Dahlan is ready to go back.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts early next week in Rome with US Secretary of State John Kerry
Experts agree history, uncertainty not on side of memo authors
UN chief Ban ki Moon has met with Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman over disagreements over the claims of targeting children in Yemen
Turkish Foreign Ministry describes reports of phosphorus bombs and incendiary cluster munitions as 'extremely worrying'
Israeli authorities carrying out secret excavations under East Jerusalem’s Al-Asqa Mosque compound.