Syrian opposition vows to show ‘patience’ in peace bid
GENEVA – Agence France-Presse
AFP photoSyria’s main opposition said March 22 that it would not be deterred by Damascus’ refusal to discuss the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and vowed to be patient in the ongoing peace talks.
A member of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) opposition umbrella group criticized the regime’s lead negotiator in Geneva, Bashar al-Jaafari, for using inflammatory rhetoric and blocking progress towards agreement on a political transition in the war-ravaged country.
But Hisham Marwa, who serves as a consultant in the HNC delegation taking part in the U.N.-brokered talks, told AFP the regime position “will not affect our decision to be engaged in a political process, and to show a higher degree of responsibility and patience.”
His comments came after Jaafari on March 21 once again branded the opposition as foreign-backed terrorists and reiterated that any discussion of Assad’s fate was “excluded.”
He also stressed though that Damascus was committed to the peace process, and that his delegation had “clear instructions from our leadership to engage seriously in these talks.”
Assad’s fate has been a key obstacle in the latest talks aimed at ending Syria’s devastating five-year war, which has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions.
The U.N.’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said he had pressured Damascus to outline its approach to the crucial issue of a political transition, as negotiations in Geneva entered their second week.
De Mistura said the regime’s lead negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari told him “it was... premature to talk about it. My message was [that] premature [for him] means imminent as far as we are concerned.”
Lebanon’s Hezbollah vowed to stay in Syria until the Islamic State –of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaeda’s Syria branch are beaten.
“All that has been said about our withdrawal from Syria is false,” Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen on March 21.
“We went to Syria to help keep the country from falling into the hands of Daesh [ISIL] and al-Nusra Front... So long as we have a responsibility to be there, we will be there.”