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Hezbollah confident in Assad, West resigned to Syria stalemate

By Samia Nakhoul and Laila Bassam BEIRUT (Reuters) - Bashar al-Assad's Lebanese ally Hezbollah said his Western foes must now accept he will go on ruling Syria after fighting rebels to a standstill - a "reality" to which his foreign enemies seem increasingly resigned.

Syria's Assad says political Islam project has failed

The "project of political Islam has failed," Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday, calling for the separation of religion from politics, state television said. Assad's regime has been battling an uprising that has come to be dominated by Islamists, ranging from moderates to radicals, who want to see Syria run as an Islamic state. "The project of political Islam has failed, and there should be no mixing between political and religious work," he said in comments on the 67th anniversary of the founding of his Baath party.

Syria's Assad 'will not go' like Yanukovych: Russian official

A former Russian prime minister who recently met Bashar al-Assad said Monday the Syrian president told him he would not flee like the deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. "The Syrian president told me: 'Tell Putin that I am no Yanukovych and that I will not go,'" Sergei Stepashin told reporters in Moscow after meeting the Syrian president last week. Assad was referring to Moscow-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych who was ousted by a pro-European popular uprising in February and fled to Russia.

Assad tells Russian ex-PM 'active phase' of Syria war over this year

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former Russian prime minister who recently met Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian president told him that much of the fighting in the country's civil war would be over by the end of the year, Itar-Tass news agency reported on Monday. Russia has been Assad's most powerful supporter during the three-year conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people, blocking Western and Arab efforts to drive him from power.

Anti-Assad allies rebuff Syrian presidential election plan

PARIS (Reuters) - International powers who support the Syrian opposition have firmly rebuffed any idea of a presidential election organized by the Syrian government in the midst of a civil war, describing the plans as a "parody of democracy" that would kill peace talks.

West, Middle East powers warn against Syria election

Eleven Western and Middle Eastern powers on Thursday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against holding elections, saying that the vote would have no credibility amid the country's brutal civil war. In a joint statement, the 11 core members of so-called Friends of Syria urged Assad instead to embrace a plan outlined in Geneva talks that includes a transitional government as a way out of the three-year war.

Syria's Assad says Russia 're-establishing multipolar world'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that key ally Moscow had helped re-establish "a multipolar world", as he met with a high-level Russian delegation in Damascus. The delegation was delivering a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has provided political, military and financial backing to Assad's regime since the outbreak of a revolt in March 2011.

Beirut gunfight between Assad supporters and opponents kills one

REUTERS - One person was killed and 10 people were wounded in clashes in south Beirut on Sunday between supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rival fighters, security sources said. The fighting broke out before dawn between gunmen loyal to Shaker Barjawi, a Sunni Muslim who supports the Syrian Alawite president, and Sunni Muslims who back the three-year uprising against Assad's rule.

Fear rules in Damascus as Syria's revolt enters fourth year

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - During a recent meeting of Damascene merchants, talk turned to the case of a colleague detained by Syria's powerful and dreaded state security apparatus. The man in question, it seemed, had overheard someone cursing President Bashar al-Assad, but failed to turn them in. "Imagine that! They took him and beat him to a pulp and called him a mute devil for not reporting his colleague," one merchant said. "Imagine the life we're living now!"

Syria refugees dismayed at prospect of Assad re-election

Syrian refugees in a sprawling desert camp in Jordan fear that President Bashar al-Assad's likely re-election this year will leave their dream of a return home as distant as ever. As Syria's war entered its fourth year this weekend, many of the around 100,000 refugees in Zaatari camp see no end in sight to their misery. "After killing tens of thousands of his own people and forcing millions more to flee their homes, the idea of Assad's re-election is insane," Abu Mohammad, 54, said.
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