Assad says Aleppo must be 'cleaned' of terrorists

A victory for the Syrian army in Aleppo would be a springboard to liberate other areas of the country from "terrorists", president Bashar al-Assad said.

In an interview with Russian media outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda, Assad said taking the city from rebel forces would push "terrorists" back to Turkey.

He said Aleppo is effectively no longer Syria's industrial capital but taking back the city would provide important political and strategic gains for his regime.

"It's going to be the springboard, as a big city, to move to other areas, to liberate other areas from the terrorists. This is the importance of Aleppo now," Assad said.

"You have to keep cleaning this area and to push the terrorists to Turkey to go back to where they come from, or to kill them. There's no other option. But Aleppo is going to be a very important springboard to do this move."

Syria's forces have encircled the eastern half of Aleppo held by rebel forces. Credit: Reuters

Assad also said Turkey's actions in Syria constituted an invasion which was against international law and the country's civil war was now a conflict between Russia and the West.

Government forces have encircled the eastern half of Aleppo, besieging more than a quarter of a million people who they say are being used as human shields by "terrorists".

The siege has caused a global outcry with a number of countries and groups accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes in connection with attacks on medical facilities and aid convoys.