Assad legitimized Hezbollah's presence in Syria, praised Russian and Iranian support. (EPA)
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Damascus – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has praised the support of the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah in the war against rebels and Islamist fighters.
Assad said in an interview with Hezbollah’s official channel, al-Manar, on Tuesday that the presence of Shiite fighters in Syria is “legitimate” since his government has requested Hezbollah’s military support.
In an earlier speech last month, Assad had revealed the shortage of manpower in his army.
Hezbollah militants have recently led several battles against rebel groups in Syria’s Homs and in the mountainous Qalamoun region.
“The Syrian state requested the assistance of Hezbollah. It was a request by the Syrian state – which is a legitimate state – in order to help defending the Syrian people,” Assad said.
Russia, Iran beyond loyal
The embattled president emphasized the remarkable support of Russia and Iran to his regime since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, saying they have been “beyond loyal”.
Assad also expressed “strong confidence” in Moscow’s efforts to continue backing his regime in the fight against rebel groups and Islamists.
“We have strong confidence in the Russians, as they have proven throughout this crisis, for four years, that they are sincere and transparent in their relationship with us,” Assad said.
“They (Russians) are principled, while the United States abandons its allies, abandons its friends,” he added.
“This was never the case with Russia’s policy, neither during the Soviet Union, nor during the time of Russia.”
Assad added that Iran remained a steadfast ally for Syria throughout the crisis.
“The power of Iran is the power of Syria, and a victory for Syria is a victory for Iran. We are on the same axis, the axis of resistance,” the embattled president said.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi