Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, has vowed to “liberate” every inch of the country in the same way his troops recaptured the historic town of Palmyra from Islamic State earlier his year.
Assad’s speech in front of the newly elected parliament came as government forces pushed ahead in their offensive in the northern province of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS and the seat of its self-proclaimed caliphate.
Government forces have also almost encircled rebel-held neighbourhoods in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
The situation on the ground is much better than it was months ago, Assad claimed, calling on the people “not to worry because the conditions are good”.
Earlier, legislators had stood up and chanted, “Our soul, our blood we sacrifice for you, Bashar”, as he walked into the parliament’s main hall in central Damascus.
The scales of war in Syria have tipped in Assad’s favour since Russia began an aerial campaign last September, helping government troops capture wide areas from insurgents. The biggest victory came in March when Syrian forces evicted IS from Palmyra.