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Syria's Assad pledges to attend proposed peace talks, says his side is winning war

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed in an interview broadcast Thursday that his government is winning the country's civil war and pledged that he would personally attend proposed peace talks in Geneva tentatively set for later this summer.

"We will go to Geneva as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people," Assad said in an interview that was broadcast on a Lebanese television station.

His statement contrasted with the likelihood that Syrian rebels would decline to attend the talks, which are being sponsored by the United States and Russia.

Assad also predicted that his country would receive a shipment of advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles, but he declined to comment specifically on when they might arrive. "All of our agreements with Russia will be implemented," he said.

Assad's comments came in a lengthy prerecorded interview with al Manar television, the broadcast outlet of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, which has recently assumed an increasingly important role in Assad's fight against rebel forces.

But he discounted the importance of Hezbollah's presence in Syria, saying the number of fighters the Lebanese group had sent to his country was a "drop in the ocean" compared with the "hundreds of thousands" of Syrian government troops fighting on his behalf.

Michigan woman killed: The family of a Michigan woman says the FBI confirmed she was killed in fighting in Syria.

An aunt of Nicole Lynn Mansfield, 33, of Flint, said she was a convert to Islam who once was married to an Arab immigrant.

Syrian news reports say Mans- field and two other westerners killed with her were fighters for the opposition.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Syrian President Bashar Assad says his side is winning. He downplayed Hezbollah’s role.

Syrian President Bashar Assad says his side is winning. He downplayed Hezbollah’s role.

Syria's Assad pledges to attend proposed peace talks, says his side is winning war 05/30/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:35pm]
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