Syria's President, Bashar al-Assad, said yesterday that his forces need time to win the country's civil war, which he said has drawn in regional and international powers.
The remarks were a sign that Mr Assad's regime may be preparing for a long struggle against rebels on a multitude of fronts, including Damascus and Aleppo, the nation's largest city, and a string of cities and towns across the Arab nation.
They also appeared to reinforce Mr Assad's remarks to a visiting Iranian official over the weekend that he would continue the fight against the rebels "whatever the price".
"We are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it," he told the pro-Assad al-Dunya television channel. "I can sum up [what is happening] in one sentence: We are moving forward. The situation is practically better but it has not been decided yet. That takes time."
Confident and relaxed, Mr Assad paid tribute to the Syrian people, saying they stood steadfastly behind him and his armed forces. He criticised the leaders of his one-time ally Turkey, saying some of them were "ignorant".