Proclaiming the Syrian people winners in a “dirty war” waged by outsiders, President Bashar Assad was sworn in on Wednesday, marking the start of his third seven-year term in office amid a bloody civil war that has ravaged the Arab country.
Looking confident and self-assured, occasionally making jokes, Mr. Assad declared victory over “terrorism” and said countries that supported the Syrian opposition “will pay a high price”.
The grandiose ceremony at the presidential palace in Damascus caps what has been a recent reversal of fortune on the battlefield for Mr. Assad’s forces battling the rebellion against him. In the past year, the 48-year-old leader has managed to seize the momentum in the civil war, with his troops making steady advances on several fronts against outgunned rebels bogged down in infighting.
Syrian state TV broadcast what it said was a live ceremony Wednesday during which Assad took the oath of office. The TV showed Assad arriving at the People’s Palace in the Qassioun Mountain, the scenic plateau that overlooks the capital from the north.