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  • A man holds a baby that survived what activists said was a site hit by a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the old city of Aleppo June 3, 2015.

    A man holds a baby that survived what activists said was a site hit by a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the old city of Aleppo June 3, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 July 2015

President Bashar Assad called for peace talks to end the conflict in Syria as he justified why his army gave up on certain territories in Syria.

The Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday he supported a dialogue that would end the civil war and that his army had to give up some territory in order to preserve other more important areas.

Assad said that he supported any peace talks that would end the conflict in Syria even if the effects of such talks would be limited. He also said that any dialogue that did not involve fighting terrorism would “meaningless”.

Syria has been suffering a bloody civil war as insurgents and different groups are gaining ground in the country and aim at undermining the Syrian government.

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Several groups, including the extremist Islamic State group and al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra, aim at toppling Assad and are accused of being financed and supported militarily and logistically by several countries in the region including Turkey and several Gulf countries.

Meanwhile, Assad justified why his army had given up on some territories. "It was necessary to specify critical areas for our armed forces to hang on to. Concern for our soldiers forces us to let go of some areas." Assad said in a televised speech. He added that: "Every inch of Syria is precious."

The Islamic State group currently controls more than one-third of Syria and continues to gain control despite a controversial operation by the United States and its allies that has involved daily airstrikes in Syria since November.

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Critics argue that the operation has failed to push back against the Sunni extremist group as they continue to gain territory in both Syria and Iraq. More than 200,000 people have died so far in the Syrian civil war.

According to the United Nations and other aid groups, there are at least 11 million displaced Syrians, at least one million Syrian refugees in Turkey and another million in Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands are also in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Egypt.

In a recent development, the Turkish government have launched air strikes in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State group and the Kurdish Worker's Party PKK.

However, the Turkish government has been accused over the past several years of turning a blind eye to the expansion of the extremist group south of its borders as an indirect plan for supporting insurgency against the Syrian government.

In fact, a pro-government Turkish journalist said in a tweet Saturday that Turkey was in the process in a limited operation against the Islamic State group, while being in a comprehensive operation against the leftist PKK group.

Kurdish forces have been the main local forces in Iraq and Syria who have managed so far, depending only on their own resources, to deal major blows to the Islamic State group and take back towns and territories from them.

Therefore, critics of the Turkish government argue that the recent operation against the PKK is meant to weaken the Kurdish resistance against the Islamic State group and other anti-Assad insurgencies in Syria.   

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