Islamic State, which took advantage of chaos caused by the civil war to seize swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, is retreating in both countries and falling back on its Euphrates valley strongholds on either side of Deir al-Zor.
Veteran war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is preparing to step down after five years serving in the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss media the evidence against Assad was sufficient to secure a war crimes conviction.
In 2013, when Syria acquired membership to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), it claimed it gave up its rights to 1,300 tonnes of toxic weapons and industrial chemicals.
Assad told a Japanese TV station he hoped the conference would be a platform to discuss “everything” but that it was unclear if there would be political dialogue “because it is not clear who will participate”.
The city’s “liberation” was “history in the making and worthy of more than the word ‘congratulations’,” he said in a video posted on the presidency’s official social media accounts.
“It’s true that Aleppo will be a win for us,” Assad said. “Let’s be realistic — it won’t mean the end of the war in Syria,” Assad said.
Late on Thursday, the besieged rebel-held town of Daraya received its first United Nations food delivery since 2012, a lifeline for the suffering population.
Threatened by rebel advances last year, Assad is now pumped up with confidence after Russian air strikes reversed the tide and enabled his army to recover lost ground from Sunni insurgents as well as the jihadis of Islamic State.
“The terrorists fired rockets carrying mustard gas,” a statement said on state owned Ikhbariyah television station.
The statement by the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee came hours after Moscow and Washington said a ceasefire in war-torn Syria was set to begin overnight Friday-Saturday.
He pointed out that countries, like Turkey, must stop sending more terrorists and arms as well as providing logistical support to the terrorists.
If implemented, the deal hammered out during five hours of late night talks in Munich would allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged towns.
But the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main opposition umbrella group, remains sceptical, insisting that the regime to allow humanitarian access to besieged towns, stop the bombardment of civilians and release prisoners.
Russia began carrying out air strikes on the positions of Islamic State fighters in September in support of Assad’s army.
IS “didn’t start in Syria, it started in Iraq, and it started before that in Afghanistan,” he said