The civil conflict in Syria can be over in two weeks if foreign fighters and weapons stop trickling in through the border with Turkey, the Al-Akhbar daily in Beirut quoted the Syrian president as saying on Monday.
According to the paper, Bashar al-Assad made the statement at a meeting with "a group of visitors from the Arab states" in Damascus on Monday. The president informed the visitors about the present situation in Syria during the meeting, which lasted for three hours. The daily gave no information about the visitors' identities or nationalities.
The paper quoted al-Assad as saying that the Syrian army has recently dealt a number of serious blows to the armed groups financed from abroad and that "the most difficult stage of the crisis has been left behind."
"Militant groups mostly operate in regions bordering Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and some suburbs of Damascus. The Syrian capital itself, including the road to the international airport, is safe," the paper said, quoting the Syrian leader.
Assad also thanked Russia for its support, saying that "by supporting Syria, Russia defends itself, not the [Syrian] regime."