“The armed men are using terrorism against the Syrian state,” he said. But, “they have no support among the people. Ultimately they will not emerge victorious.”
Assad also insisted that he was open to negotiation and diplomatic solutions. “The door to dialogue is open,” he said. “Only talks with the opposition will solve the crisis.”
“Change cannot be achieved through foreign intervention,” Assad continued. “Political dialogue is the only solution. Violence, however, is not allowed … and the state will not stand with its hands tied in the face of those who bear arms against it.”
Assad also blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for helping to fuel the violence in Syria.
“The Qataris were the quickest to fuel the violence,” Assad told the magazine. “They suddenly saw money in their hands after a long period of poverty and think they can buy history and play a regional role.”
He also said Qatar “uses the power of money and revolves in the orbit of the West by providing weapons and money to terrorists to repeat the scenario of Libya” and was deeply critical of Turkey, formerly one of Syria’s closest allies.
"The widespread idea that Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt are the cornerstone of stability in the region is false. It has always been, and will remain, Syria, Iraq and Egypt," he added.
Taking a direct shot at the Saudis, Assad declared that prior to the conflict, Riyadh served only as a "mediator with the West that does not appreciate the axis of resistance against Zionism advocated by Syria."
The interview was published one day after a helicopter crash killed 30 more civilians and injured 83 more in northeast Syria, AFP reported, and at least 124 other people were killed elsewhere in the country.