US: Assad’s departure is no longer a priority
The United States authorities have said current President Bashar al-Assad’s departure is no longer a priority to end the conflict, netting reaction from the opposition in the war-thorn country.
However, on March 30, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in New York said the new administration of President Donald Trump is no longer focused on ousting Assad.
“You pick and choose your battles,” Nikki Haley told reporters. “And when we’re looking at this it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”
Haley said the U.S. would focus on the push for a political solution to the conflict.
Still on March 30, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the fate of al-Assad was up to the people of Syria, in the clearest indication yet of the new administration’s policy in the war-torn country.
He also insisted during a visit to Turkey there was no difference between Ankara and Washington over the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
“The opposition will never accept any role for Bashar al-Assad at any phase... there will be no change in our position,” said Monzer Makhos, a spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee, composed of key Syrian opposition groups in Geneva.
For the past week, a fifth round of UN-sponsored negotiations seeking to halt Syria’s six-year war has been under way in the Swiss city.
Another spokeswoman for the Syrian opposition, Farah Atassi, expressed the need for Washington to play a “more decisive role” in the negotiations.
“We want the United States to return to play its main political role in dealing with the Syrian file and are looking forward to a new beginning with this [Trump] administration,” she said, adding that there was a need “correct the disastrous mistakes” of the previous administration of former president Barack Obama.