General Joseph Votel, head of CENTCOM (C), at a hearing before the Armed Forces Committee of the US Senate, March 13, 2018. © AP

The head of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces (CENTCOM) said the Syrian government is the winner of the seven-year-long civil war with the support of Russia and Iran.

At a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, March 13, General Joseph Votel recalled that US policy was based on the departure or resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “However, the government of Bashar al-Assad is now stronger inside the country,” he said, pointing out that the support of Russia and Iran has allowed Syrian government forces to fight effectively against armed groups, including those supported by the United States. “Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, and Idlib, in the north of the country, are the only areas of Syrian territory whose control is currently beyond the control of President Assad’s government,” he added.

Questioned by Senator Lindsey Graham, who wanted to know if General Votel was exaggerating when he spoke of a victory for Bashar al-Assad with the support of Russia and Iran, the CENTCOM leader did not chew his words: “I do not think it’s too strong a statement. I think that Moscow and Tehran have provided the Syrian president with the means to be in a stronger position at this stage. ”

The Senate commission put another question to General Joseph Votel: “Is the US policy based on a departure from Assad? The CENTCOM leader responded indirectly by saying that a possible victory for the central government in Damascus could create some difficulties for Washington. “I do not know what is the exact position of the US government on such a sensitive issue. But in the long run, a victory for Assad could create some difficulties because of the threats that Hezbollah would impose on Jordan and Israel, “said General Joseph Votel.

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