Iranian mourners carry the flag draped coffin of Abdollah Bagheri Niaraki, a onetime bodyguard of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was killed while fighting in Aleppo in Syria, during his funeral service in front of his home in downtown Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported last Friday that Niaraki was killed while fighting alongside Syrian government forces against “terrorists” in the northern city of Aleppo. Iran is a longtime ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has provided crucial economic and military backing throughout the uprising and subsequent civil war. Iran says it has sent military advisers to Syria but no combat troops. AP
ROME — Syrian President Bashar Assad has told Italian state television that no political process can begin while “terrorists” occupy his nation.
Assad in an interview shown Wednesday night said “nothing can start before defeating the terrorists who occupy parts of Syria.”
Foreign ministers from 19 countries meeting recently in Vienna set a Jan. 1 deadline to start negotiations aimed at achieving a transitional government and eventually elections.
Assad said if Syria’s people want presidential elections “there will be no red line” against holding them. Asked how much territory the government still controls, 4 1/2 years into a civil war, Assad replied, “geographically speaking, the situation changes day by day.”
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