Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that he plans to retake “the whole country”, despite a renewed effort from the international community to push for peace.

In an interview with AFP, Assad admitted that regaining the territory lost to rebel groups could take some time and “incur a heavy price”, but blamed any extension of the conflict on foreign interference.

He also dismissed accusations by UN investigators that his government was guilty of war crimes over their arbitrary detention and treatment of prisoners.

The president expressed some support for the ongoing peace talks, but failed to admit that any rebel group had moderate and democratic goals for Syria and said that the talks did not mean he would “stop fighting terrorism”.

Assad made the comments as the international community agreed to push for a cessation in hostilities in the conflict to allow aid to reach those in need in towns and villages besieged by government and rebel forces.

More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted nearly five years ago, with 11 million Syrians displaced form their homes.

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