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  • » 10/31/2013, 00.00

    SYRIA

    As OPCW destroys chemical plants, Assad insists only Syrians can "decide on Syria's future"



    In his meeting with UN-Arab League Special Envoy Lakdhar Brahimi, the Syrian President slams foreign powers for providing weapons to the rebels. The tête-à-tête took place yesterday in Damascus ahead of the Geneva Conference, scheduled for late November. The OPCW announces the destruction of all the 20 plants that made sarin gas for chemical weapons.

    Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In view of the Syria peace conference in Geneva set for late November, the Syrian regime is making small overtures, but continues to reject talks with the rebels sponsored by Gulf nations. Still, there are some good news from the war front, the first in three years. Today, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that it completed the destruction of 20 sites where sarin gas was manufactured. Yesterday, with the regime's backing the Red Crescent evacuated about 800 civilians (women, children and seniors), including rebel families, from the Moadamiyet al-Sham District, southeast of Damascus.

    After yesterday's meeting in Damascus with the UN-Arab League Special Envoy Lakdhar Brahimi, President Bashar al -Assad said that "The Syrian people are the only ones who have the right to decide on Syria's future". For him, "Putting an end to support for the terrorists and pressuring the states that support them is the most important step to prepare . . . for dialogue".

    Assad has ruled out resigning as demanded by the rebels. He also saying whether he would run in future democratic elections.

    Nevertheless, the Syrian leaders supports Brahimi's push for ​​ a quick solution to the conflict, which since March 2011 has killed more than 115,000 people, and displace some 7 million people inside and outside the country.

    According to the UN envoy, the first objective at the Geneva Conference will be to get all parties to agree on a strategy to stop the hostilities.

    However, set for late November, the Geneva meeting is likely to fail because of differences between Assad and the rebels.

    In fact, the Syrian National Council (SNC) recently announced that it would not participate in any negotiations if the president were still in power. The SNC is an umbrella organisation representing all opposition groups in exile.

    For their part, groups close to Islamist wing of the opposition warned that rebels who attend the Geneva Conference would be branded as traitors.

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    See also

    20/04/2012 SYRIA
    Syria's ceasefire "very fragile"
    China backs observers' mission called for by agreement reached by Syria and the United Nations. Reports of air strikes and shelling continue however. The United States call for tighter sanctions, including an arms embargo.

    10/08/2012 SYRIA - UN
    The United Nations appoints a successor to Kofi Annan in Syria
    Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian diplomat, will be the UN and Arab League new envoy. He has served as special envoy of war in various areas of the world. His appointment will be formally announced early next week.

    12/03/2013 SYRIA - EUROPEAN UNION
    European jihadists among Syrian fighters
    For EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, fighters with European passports could carry out attacks once back home. UN/AL envoy to Syria calls on Europeans to help find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

    31/10/2012 CHINA - SYRIA
    For Brahimi, China can play a positive role in the Syrian crisis
    UN envoy ends a two-day visit to Beijing after a stop in Moscow in search of support for a proposal he plans to submit to the Security Council next month. Saudi cleric calls on foreign fighters not to join Syrian rebels.

    15/02/2014 SYRIA - UNITED NATIONS
    Geneva II: second round of talks ends without results
    UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologises to the Syrian people for the lack of progress. The main point of contention remains the transitional government, which Damascus has strongly rejected. The opposition continues to demand Assad's removal.



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