Assad could hold on for years: Iraq’s PM

Free Syrian Army fighters sit behind their anti-aircraft weapon in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian rebels brought their fight within a mile of the heart of Damascus on Friday, seizing army checkpoints and cutting a key highway with a row of burning tires as they pressed their campaign for the heavily guarded capital, considered the likely endgame in the nearly 2-year-old civil war. (AP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could survive two more years of revolt despite US expectations of a more imminent fall, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Maliki is seen as close to Assad's main ally Iran, but has been careful not to express support for the Syrian leader or the Opposition.

In an interview in Cairo with the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat, Maliki said US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton had told him Assad would fall "within two months".

He did not say when he had spoken to them.

Maliki said Assad would not fall "even after two years."

"I know Syria very well," he said, adding that Assad's minority Alawite sect would fight alongside other minority groups against rebels.

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