Syrian president says he is 'sure of victory' over rebels

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was "sure of victory" over rebels fighting to topple him, in an Army Day message carried by state media on Thursday.

"If we in Syria were not sure of victory, we would not have had the will to resist nor been able to persevere in the face of more than two years of aggression," he said.

"I have great faith in you and confidence in your ability to... fulfil the national mission that has been assigned to you," Mr Assad told troops in the message.

"You have shown rare courage in the battle against terrorism and you have impressed the whole world with your resistance... in one of the most brutal and ferocious wars of modern history," he said.

His comments came after troops recaptured a key neighbourhood of the strategic central city of Homs on Monday in the biggest gain so far of a month-long assault.

The army has also been on the offensive in the eastern suburbs of the capital and west of the main northern city of Aleppo.

The 28-month conflict has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the United Nations, but UN efforts to convene a Russian- and US-backed peace conference have stalled.

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