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Assad filmed driving himself to the front lines of Syrian civil war

Assad filmed driving himself to the front lines of Syrian civil war
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By Michael Daventry
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The Syrian leader met government troops fighting the remaining rebel groups in eastern Ghouta

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Bashar al-Assad boasted his government's progress in Syria's seven-year civil war with a video of himself driving to meet soldiers near a rebel pocket in Damascus.

"The road is open... everything is running now in the city and in Syria," the Syrian president told the camera in the footage filmed from the passenger seat of his car.

"Everyone is returning to the government, as you see. This confirms what we were always saying - that the people want the state."

"The situation could be solved in a short time," he later added.

Assad's journey took him to the battle front in eastern Ghouta, where smoke could still be seen rising in the horizon.

State television pictures showed him being cheered by government soldiers as he shook their hands and climbed a tank.

The Syrian president's visit came as some people began to return to their homes in Ghouta, only a few days after they had left them when rebel forces agreed a deal to withdraw.

But bombs were still falling several kilometres away in Douma as government forces continued their offensive on the remaining rebel zones around Damascus.

At least 20 civilians were killed in air strikes on the region in the last twenty-four hours.

Large areas of Syrian territory remains outside of President Assad's control, but he now holds the main cities of the heavily-populated western parts of the country.

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