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Syria Opposition rejects UN proposal for Bashar al-Assad to stay

AFP
Published : Apr 17, 2016, 7:19 am IST
Updated : Apr 17, 2016, 7:19 am IST

Syria’s Opposition has rejected a proposal from the UN envoy that would have kept Bashar al-Assad as President during a political transition, with three deputies of his opponents’ choosing.

Syria’s Opposition has rejected a proposal from the UN envoy that would have kept Bashar al-Assad as President during a political transition, with three deputies of his opponents’ choosing.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura told Syria’s Opposition attending peace talks in Geneva that the proposal could end the “vicious cycle” of debate over a transitional period to end the war, a source said on Saturday. The fate of Mr Assad remains the key sticking point in the discussions involving the Oppos-ition High Negotiations Committee and a government delegation.

The HNC insists Mr Assad must leave, but Damascus objects to that demand. An HNC source said on Saturday that the committee had rejected a proposal by Mr de Mistura that would have seen Mr Assad remain as President through a transitional period.

In exchange, the HNC would have been allowed to hand-pick three vice-presidents, the source said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Mr Assad “would transfer his military and political prerogatives to them. Effectively, Assad would stay in a ceremonial position. But we categorically rejected the proposal,” he said.

On the ground, tens of thousands of Syrians are at risk of being displaced as clashes between rebels and jihadists intensified in the country’s north.

The escalating fighting across swathes of Aleppo province has threatened to collapse a fragile ceasefire and derail the latest round of indirect negotiations in Switzerland between the regime and Opposition.

ISIS made gains in northern Syria on Saturday from both government forces and their rebel opponents, a monitoring group said.

The northern province of Aleppo borders Turkey and is criss-crossed with supply routes that are strategic for practically all of Syria's warring sides.

On Saturday, ISIS fighters seized another border village in their offensive against non-jihadist rebel groups in the province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The ISIS counterattack has rolled back rebel gains in the border area, which had seen advance them from Azaz, a town eight kilometres south of the Turkish border, towards ISIS bastions further east.

“The IS gains have cut off opposition territory around Azaz from rebels in the town of Dudyan further east,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Location: Lebanon, Beirut