Syrian President Bashar Assad says while he supports peace talks, he is not going to stop trying to wrench control of his country from rebel forces.
In an exclusive interview Thursday with the news agency AFP, Assad vowed to regain control of his war-ravaged nation — but warned "the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price."
His comments came hours before major world powers agreed to a temporary ceasefire in Syria.
Assad said he supported negotiations with the opposition, adding that his government has "fully believed in negotiations and in political action since the beginning of the crisis."
"However, if we negotiate, it does not mean that we stop fighting terrorism. The two tracks are inevitable in Syria," he said.
He added that he felt there was a risk Turkey and Saudi Arabia, major backers of the opposition, may decide to bring military intervention to Syria.
The Syrian civil war is now in its fifth year. The temporary ceasefire, announced after marathon discussions with Russia and more than a dozen other countries in Munich, calls for a "cessation of hostilities in Syria" starting in a week.
A Russian-backed government offensive is currently under way in the northern province of Aleppo, where Syrian government troops have focused their efforts in recent weeks and are closing in on rebels.
"The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey, for Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists," Assad told the AFP.
The AFP interview was Assad's first since failed peace talks in Geneva earlier this month. Those talks are on hiatus until Feb. 25.