BEIRUT (Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad said talk of a Western-imposed buffer zone on Syrian territory was unrealistic and that the situation in his country was "better", but more time was needed to win the conflict against rebels trying to overthrow him.
Assad was speaking in an interview with Syrian Addounia television, excerpts of which were broadcast by the station on Wednesday. The president, responding to rumors concerning his whereabouts since a July bombing in Damascus, said he was speaking from the presidential palace in the capital.
"I believe that talk about a buffer zone is not practical, even for those countries which are playing a hostile role (against Syria)," Assad said.
Neighboring Turkey has floated the idea of a "safe zone" to be set up for civilians under foreign protection as fighting has intensified in the 17-month-old uprising against Assad.
"Syrian is engaged in a regional and global battle....The situation, practically, is better but it has not been resolved," Assad said. "I tell the Syrian people that the fate of Syria is in their hands."
Assad, who has vowed to defeat insurgents he describes as Islamist terrorists, praised the army and security forces who he said "are doing a heroic job in every sense".
(Editing by Alistair Lyon)