As the Syrian army continues to plough its way through rebel strongholds in its campaign against " terrorism," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Monday that his administration's main concern is ending the bloodshed in Syria through the reconciliation, according to the official SANA news agency.
"We are continuing in the process of reconciliation because our concern is to halt the bloodshed and stop the destruction of the infrastructure," Assad said, underscoring the role of the ruling al-Baath party in making the reconciliation process a success, Xinhua reported.
The president made the remarks during his meeting on Monday with leading members of the al-Baath party, marking the 67th anniversary of the leading party, which has ruled Syria since the 1970s. The remarks came after a particular bloody Monday morning in the Arab nation after at least 20 suspected rebel militants were killed on Monday by the Syrian army in the capital Damascus, and after at least 11 people were killed and 50 others wounded when rebel-fired mortar shells slammed into the northwestern province of Aleppo, the official SANA news agency reported.
The president's statements are yet another sign that the Syrian government is opening itself to national reconciliation, after it had previously rejected the slow-pace of international efforts to bring about a political solution to the three-year conflict plaguing the country.
Agreements have been reached with armed groups in the capital Damascus' suburbs of Barzeh, al-Qaboun, Beit Sahm and Babilla, and the government is now working to establish reconciliation in other hotspots, though it still continues its military operations against rebel groups who refuse to work with Assad's government.
The Syrian army has made strides in its battle against armed rebel groups across the country, mainly in areas around the capital Damascus and the central province of Homs, giving the government more leverage during peace talks.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar said the atmosphere in Syria is suitable for a real reconciliation process, following successive rebel defeats in battles that have led them to a "dead end."
The minister stressed that the state is committed to the reconciliation process, adding that "There should be trust- building measures by both parties and we are working to make the reconciliation efforts successful."
More than 150,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since opposition protesters first sought to oust President Assad and his government in March 2011. The country has been mired in bloody war between the Syrian army and armed rebel militias ever since.