The Syrian government's powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah has declared victory in the Syrian war, dismissing remaining fighting as "scattered battles", a pro-Hezbollah newspaper reported on Tuesday.
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The comments by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah mark one of the most confident assessments yet by the government side as it regains swathes of territory in eastern Syria in a rapid advance against Islamic State.
Referring to President Bashar Assad's opponents, Nasrallah said "the path of the other project has failed and wants to negotiate for some gains", the al-Akhbar newspaper cited him saying at a religious gathering.
"We have won in the war (in Syria)...and what remains are scattered battles," said Nasrallah, whose Iran-backed group has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support Assad.
A source familiar with the contents of Nasrallah's speech confirmed al-Akhbar's report.
Backed by Russia and Iran, Assad has crushed numerous pockets of rebel-held territory in the western Syrian cities of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus over the last year, and he appears militarily unassailable in the six-year-long conflict.
Ceasefires brokered by Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United States in remaining rebel-held areas of western Syria have freed up manpower on the government side, helping its advance east into the oil-rich province of Deir al-Zor.
The eastward march to Deir al-Zor, unthinkable two years ago when Assad seemed in danger, has underlined his ever more confident position and the dilemma facing Western governments that still want him to leave power in a negotiated transition.
Government forces last week reached Deir al-Zor city, the provincial capital on the Euphrates River, breaking an Islamic State siege of a government-held enclave and a nearby air base.
In a televised speech last month, Assad said there were signs of victory in the war, but that the battle continued.
U.S.-backed militia fighting under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have in recent days launched a separate offensive against Islamic State in Deir al-Zor province.
The SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, is also waging a campaign to capture Raqqa city from Islamic State. It has avoided conflict with the Syrian government.