Hezbollah leader says war on Assad has failed
The head of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has said opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has failed, after his victory in presidential elections on Tuesday.
Hassan Nasrallah, a staunch ally of Assad, said Syrians had prevented US plans to "confiscate" their will, in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar TV on Friday.
The leader of the armed group, which is heavily involved in Syria's civil war, denied accusations that Hezbollah had forced Syrians in Lebanon to take part in the vote, saying Syrians had "heavily" participated in the vote.
"The election is a political and popular declaration that the war has failed," he said.
Nasrallah also called on "regional countries" to stop supporting Syrian rebel groups involved in a campaign to oust Assad and for the opposition to "acknowledge their defeat".
The Hezbollah secretary-general called for a political solution to the conflict, but warned talks must "start and end with President Bashar al-Assad," Al Manar's website reported.
Widely criticised election
Assad was re-elected as president in a widely criticised election, capturing another seven-year term in the middle of a bloody three-year-old uprising against his rule that has devastated large parts of the country.
Voting was only held in government-controlled territory and in Syrian embassies in a number of countries.
Assad's victory was a foregone conclusion, despite the presence of other candidates on the ballot for the first time in decades.
Meanwhile, activists reported on Saturday that Syrian military was dropping barrel bombs over a rebel-held district of Daraa al-Balad in the southern city of Deraa.
And in the nearby town of Taseel, activists said that 12 people were killed in a missile strike. There have also been attacks reported in Hama.
The conflict, which began in March 2011 after security forces put down largely peaceful protests against Assad's rule, evolved into an armed uprising that has killed more than 160,000 people, according to activists.
Hezbollah has helped Syrian government forces take back territory previously captured by rebels.
Both Damascus and Hezbollah say Syria is facing a Western conspiracy because of its support for groups opposed to Israel.