Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, on Thursday said that victory in Aleppo will help the government free other areas of the country from “terrorists”. He said his government intends to “clean” the besieged city, and use it as a “springboard” for winning the war against rebels in the region, The Guardian reported.

Syria’s offensive against the rebels have been criticised by several nations, including Britain. The country’s campaign is backed by Russia. Assad said that though Aleppo was no longer the industrial capital of the country, taking it back from the rebels would be a political and strategic victory for his regime.

Speaking to Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, 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.” Assad said Saudi Arabia has offered their support on the condition that Syria severs its ties with Iran.

More than 150 people were killed in Syrian military attacks, backed by Russian warplanes, in Aleppo this week, rescue workers said. At least 99 civilians died on Wednesday and Thursday alone, reported Al Jazeera. Syria and Russia have been accused of war crimes in the region. European Union foreign ministers also drafted a statement to the effect. Assad said the country’s civil war has become a point of conflict between Russia and the West. The civil war in the country has killed more than 3,00,000 people in the past six years.