Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Thursday he expected his country’s conflict to be long and difficult but vowed to defeat the insurgents battling to oust him and said he would not be driven from power.

Assad told the French magazine Paris Match nobody could predict when the war with Islamic State militants and other foes would end but said they had failed to win over the Syrian people, allowing his army to make advances.

Underscoring the challenge facing Assad, a monitoring group said at least 19 Syrian soldiers and militia men were killed when Islamic State militants attacked the Deir al-Zor airbase, one of the army’s few remaining strongholds in eastern Syria. […]