Syria's northern city of Aleppo is a decisive point in the country's civil war, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published in Russia on Friday.
A Syrian military conquest of Aleppo would provide the momentum to either further eradicate terrorist groups in the country or force them back to Turkey "from where they came," al-Assad told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.
He suggested that after the conquest, his military would proceed to "cleanse" the city of Idlib, near the Turkish border.
The bloody conflict, which has lasted more than five years, has developed into a sort of proxy war between Russia and the United States, according to al-Assad.
"The West, especially the US, did not stop the Cold War even after the collapse of the Soviet Union." He said there was a sense of a third world war hanging in the air in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed an agreement with al-Assad's government to allow permanent deployment of Russian military forces in Syria.
The deal stipulates impunity for Russian soldiers and the ability to freely transport weaponry and munitions in the Middle Eastern country.
As one of the Syrian government's main allies, Russia has been waging a bombing campaign against militant groups in the country for more than a year.
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