Assad also criticizes the international community. “It seems to me that the West is more confident in al-Qaida than me,” he says. As for US President Barack Obama, he says: “The only thing he has is lies.” In contrast, he describes the Russians as “our real friends,” adding that they “understand the reality here much better.”

Assad also suggests that Germany could act as a mediator in the conflict. “I would like to see envoys from Germany come to Syria to discuss the reality,” he says.

The Syrian president also admits that his army has cooperated with Hezbollah in fighting that has taken place in areas on the border with Lebanon.

Asked if he believes a solution to the Syrian crisis could still be negotiated, he counters, “With the militants? No. Because by its very definition, a political opposition doesn’t have an army.”