Syria VP says neither side can win decisively

DAMASCUS- Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa said in an interview to be published Monday that neither his government nor the rebels fighting to overthrow it can win a decisive victory in the 21-month conflict.
His comments came as the regime launched air strikes for the first time against a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, drawing condemnation from both Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the Hamas rulers of Gaza.
"No opposition can end the battle militarily, just as the security forces and army cannot achieve a decisive conclusion," Sharaa told the pro-Damascus Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

Syria VP says neither side can win decisively
"Every day that passes, we are moving further away from a military or political solution, " said Shara, who is the most prominent Sunni Muslim in the Alawite minority dominated regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"We must position ourselves to defend Syria's existence -- we are not in a battle for an individual or a regime.
"The various opposition forces -- whether armed or civilian, or linked to foreign powers -- cannot claim they are the sole legitimate representatives of the Syrian people," he added, referring to the decision of Arab and Western governments last week to recognise the armed opposition.
He called for confidence-building measures between the warring parties and said that "the solution must be Syrian, but through a historic settlement including key regional countries and (UN) Security Council member states."
"This accord must first bring about an end to all forms of violence and establish a national unity government with broad powers," he added.
Sharaa, 74, has served the regime for decades, both under Assad and under his father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad, but has been seen in public only a few times since the uprising erupted in March last year.
His comments to Al-Akhbar were his first published statements since July last year.
In October, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested that the vice president would be a suitable pick to lead a transition government, calling him "a man of reason" who could stop the civil war in the country.
The government air strikes against the Yarmuk refugee camp came as the army stepped up an offensive against rebel fighters across the south of Damascus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they killed at least eight civilians.
Residents told AFP that a missile hit the Abdel Qader Husseini Mosque in the heart of the camp.
The mosque was acting as a makeshift shelter for some 600 people forced to flee their homes in nearby districts engulfed in violence.
Amateur video posted online by activists in the camp showed broken glass strewn on the ground by the mosque, and several bloodied bodies laid out at the entrance.
"There is a state of real war in the camp now," Yarmuk resident Abu Mohammed told AFP by Internet.
"There are intense battles between the Free Syrian Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command," a hardline Palestine militant group that has long been a Damascus ally.
The group said in a statement broadcast on state television that "armed terrorists tried to take control of the Palestinian camps, but the PFLP-GC pushed them back."
It described the attacks as a "US-Zionist scheme against the resistance in Syria."
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the bombing of refugee camps "must be stopped immediately."
The Islamist Hamas movement also condemned the air strike, calling it a "crime."
The air strike on Yarmuk was Sunday's sixth on flashpoint districts of south Damascus, the Observatory said.
Fighter jets also bombed the nearby districts of Al-Hajar al-Aswad and Assali, scene of intense fighting between troops and rebels.
"The army feels it has to step up its campaign to suppress the insurgency in south Damascus, and that it cannot fight off rebels without resorting to air power," said the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman.
Nationwide, at least 19 people were killed in air strikes, among them six children, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and medics for its information.
In the northern province of Aleppo, eight people including three children, died in air strikes on the town of Safira.
In the central province of Hama, three children were killed in air raids on the town of Kfar Zeita.

Sunday, December 16th 2012

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