Syrian President Bashar Assad said Saturday he was ready for a ceasefire, on the condition “terrorists” did not use a lull in fighting to their advantage and that countries backing insurgents halted support for them.
“We have said that we are ready to stop military operations, but the issue relates to more important factors ... such as preventing terrorists from using it to improve their positions,” an official online media outlet for the Syrian presidency quoted Assad as saying.
He said any truce must ensure that “other countries, especially Turkey, are prevented from sending more terrorists and weapons, or any kind of logistical support.”
Turkey, other Sunni regional powers and Western countries have supported insurgents fighting against Assad, whose forces are bolstered by Iran, Russia and Lebanese Hezbollah.
Assad's comments were made in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, the full transcript of which was to be released late Saturday.
Syria's opposition said earlier it had agreed to the possibility of a temporary truce, provided there were guarantees Damascus' allies including Russia would halt fire, sieges were lifted and aid deliveries were allowed countrywide.
Attempts to negotiate a truce in recent months have failed. The latest round of talks at the United Nations in Geneva is being jointly chaired by Russia and the United States.
World powers agreed in Munich on Feb. 12 to a cessation of hostilities that would let humanitarian aid be delivered in Syria.
The ceasefire was scheduled to start a week later, but did not take effect. Syrian army offensives continue unabated across the country, backed by Russian air strikes.
Assad said last week he would keep “fighting terrorism” while peace talks took place, vowing to retake the whole country.
U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura was quoted as telling a Swedish newspaper on Thursday that resuming Syrian peace talks on the scheduled date of Feb. 25 was not a realistic option.