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    » 08/14/2012, 00.00

    SYRIA

    Assad regime collapsing, ex prime minister says



    At a press conference in Amman (Jordan), Hijab said the government is in control of only 30 per cent of the territory. He calls on Syrian political leaders and officials to break away from the regime. Assad's special envoy is in Beijing to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - The "regime is collapsing [. . .]. Militarily it is crumbling as it no longer occupies more than 30 per cent of Syrian territory," said Riad Hijab, a former Syrian prime minister who fled, at a press conference in Amman, Jordan. Its fall is a matter of weeks. Morally, materially and economically, the system has imploded. The ex premier urged the opposition to set up a united front to build a new Syria, and called on the military to stop slaughtering civilians. He said he will join the rebels and wants Assad supporters to break away from the regime.

    Hijab, who fled last week, is the highest ranking official from the Assad regime to defect and to call for his removal. He is not the only top official to do so. Syrian Republic Guard Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, one of Assad's top military advisers, and Nawaf al-Faes, Syrian ambassador to Iraq, have also defected.

    Hijab's statement comes as Syrian President's special envoy Bouthaina Shaaban met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing. His visit, which is meant to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict and revive the Annan plan, has also rekindled the debate over China's support for the current Syrian government, a position criticised by the European Union, the United States and the Arab League, which back the opposition, financially and otherwise.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said yesterday that the meeting with Bouthaina was part of Beijing's diplomatic effort to mediate between rebels and the regime. The latter includes a future meeting with rebel representatives to negotiate an immediate ceasefire.

    In 17 months of war, China and Russia have vetoed three UN Security Council's resolutions in order to prevent any anti-Assad measure from being taken.

    Meanwhile, fighting continues in Aleppo as rebels claim to have shot down a Syrian fighter plane, producing footage of a man they say was the captured pilot.

    Since violence broke out, some 20,000 people have died and 2 million civilians have been caught in the crossfire. About a million have been made homeless. About 140,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

    UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is in Damascus today to assess ways to increase the flow of emergency aid. She is expected to ask rebels and government for a humanitarian corridor to help civilians.

    She should meet Syria's new prime minister, Wail al-Halqi, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and his deputy Faisal Meqdad.

     

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    See also

    12/11/2015 SYRIA
    Riad Sargi, a Catholic engineer, and his family have remained in Syria, waiting for peace
    Hailing from Damascus, Riad Sargi has not left his country despite the war. At the World Meeting of Families, he received a copy of the Gospel from the pope. He calls his homeland "the cradle of Christianity" and views his task as helping the poor, the old and the abandoned. For him, living with Muslims is possible.

    24/02/2014 SYRIA
    Akram al-Bunni, a Christian, a Communist dissident and critic of Assad, arrested
    Jailed several times for about 20 years for criticising the Assad regime and calling for a democratic transformation of society, last year he called on Syria's minorities not to use fear of radical Islam to endorse the Assad dictatorship.

    27/09/2013 SYRIA - UNITED NATIONS
    As jihadist rebels burn two Catholic churches in ar-Raqqah, Assad's enemies openly split
    Fundamentalists target the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation and the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs, destroying the cross on the bell tower of one of them and raising the Islamist flag, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights laments. As divisions grow within the anti-Assad opposition, fundamentalist groups reject the authority of the Syrian National Council, trying instead to impose Sharia. The Security Council is ready to adopt a resolution on the destruction of Assad's chemical weapons with the support of Russia and the United States.

    01/10/2012 SYRIA
    As the war comes to Syrian Kurdistan, Ankara envisages military action
    A suicide bomber hits Qamishli, killing four and wounding scores. The city was one of the few places left under total government control. Turkish foreign minister suggests establishing a buffer zone on the Syrian border, and does not exclude "humanitarian" military action. Rebels set fire to the Old City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    08/07/2013 SYRIA
    Assad's army set to reconquer Homs
    About 70 per cent of rebel-held areas have been destroyed. According to Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the ground and air offensive against Homs, the country's third largest city and a symbol of rebellion since March 2011, continues.



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