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Oct 4, 8:30 AM EDT

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BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's President Bashar Assad says the air campaign by Russia against terrorists in his country must succeed or the whole region will be destroyed.

Assad was speaking in an interview with Iran's Khabar TV, parts of which were aired Sunday. He said that Russian campaign has the potential to succeed because it is supported by Iran and has international, if not western, support. He called on countries that support the armed opposition to stop, which would increase the chances of the campaign to succeed.

Assad's comments are the first since Russia launched an intensive air campaign against rebel positions in Syria Wednesday, saying it is targeting the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations. Some of the airstrikes hit Western-backed fighters.

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