Syrian president says he supports dialogue to end civil war

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad says he supports any political dialogue to end his country's civil war — even if its effects are limited. But he says any initiative that is not based on fighting "terrorism" will be "hollow" and "meaningless."

Assad spoke in a televised speech Sunday before local dignitaries in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

In his speech, Assad also tried to justify why the Syrian army has given up some areas of Syria, including the northwestern city of Idlib. He said it was due to military priorities. He said: "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."

He added that: "Every inch of Syria is precious."