DAMASCUS, Mar 12 – Syria’s army could go on fighting “for years” rebels trying to overthrown President Bashar al-Assad, a pro-regime newspaper said on Tuesday, adding however that citizens could join according to their capacities.
“The army is in perfect condition, its soldiers and officers have been fighting for two years with a courage and bravery unparalleled in world history, in the fiercest of battles,” said Al-Watan newspaper, as the conflict prepared to enter its third year.
“The Syrian army has at its disposal enough men and weapons to fight for years to defend Syria,” the newspaper said, adding however that Syrians could join “each according to his capacity.”
The army and insurgents have been locked in a bloody conflict that the UN says has claimed 70,000 lives and forced at least one million people out of Syria.
The insurgency erupted after the army and security forces unleashed a brutal repression campaign against dissent.
Al-Watan also pointed to a call by the High Islamic Council in Syria, the country’s top religious authority, which stressed that “the defence of a united Syria and the Syrian people is an obligation which all (citizens)… must fulfill.”
The pro-regime council aimed to “encourage people to get involved in defending the land and honour, because Syria is facing a real invasion by… Turkey from the north, Lebanon from the west and Jordan from the south,” said Al-Watan.
The Assad regime has consistently blamed foreign powers for the violence in Syria.
The opposition Syrian National Council dismissed the council’s appeal as a “call for help from the Syrian regime.”
But Al-Watan insisted that everyone in Syria must be aware that the country is “in a state of war.”
“The army is fulfilling its duties and citizens must now defend their districts, each according to their capacity, as they have done in Aleppo, Hama and Homs, where residents have taken up arms and created national defence committee,” earlier this year, it added.