US President Barack Obama has said “moderate” militants fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot hold their ground for a long period of time.
Speaking at a summit of Pacific leaders in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, Obama predicted that Syria’s second city, Aleppo, was going to fall to Syrian forces supported by Damascus’ allies, Russia and Iran.
“Once Russia and Iran made a decision to back Assad in a brutal air campaign… it was very hard to see a way in which even a trained and committed moderate opposition could hold its ground for long periods of time,” he said.
Obama, whose country is funding and training anti-Syrian militants, also said he is “not optimistic” about the Arab country’s future. “I am not optimistic about the short-term prospects in Syria.”
Since March 2011, the United States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against Syria. US officials often describe the militants fighting against the Syrian government and people as “moderate opposition” forces.
The years-long conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the Arab country’s borders.
In September 2014, the US and some of its allies started conducting airstrikes inside Syria against Daesh terrorists. However, observers say the attacks did little damage to the terrorists; rather, they targeted the country’s infrastructure.
In September of last year, Russia launched its own air offensive against the terrorists who were still wreaking havoc in Syria. The Russian campaign, analysts say, has broken the backbone of Daesh (ISIL) and other militants, and has strengthened the Assad government’s fight against terrorism.
In recent months, the Syrian army, backed by the Russian air power, has been making major gains against Takfiri terrorist groups, recapturing several strategic areas from their grip, particularly in the strategic northern province of Aleppo.
On Sunday, Obama held a brief meeting with his Russian President Vladimir Putin at the start of the APEC summit in Lima to talk about the situation in Syria and Ukraine.
Obama later said at a news conference in the Peruvian capital he told the Russian leader that Washington is very concerned about bloodshed in Syria caused by “constant bombing attacks,” and that a ceasefire was required.
“As usual I was candid and courteous but very clear about the strong differences we have on policy,” Obama said.