Syrian minister reiterates offer of power sharing
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moallem has said that an internationally-brokered ceasefire for Syria is still viable.
The message was broadcast in a TV interview yesterday as rescue workers in Aleppo cleaned up from what they said were the worst airstrikes on rebel-held areas of the northern city in five years.
Al Moallem, in the interview on Mayadeen TV from New York, also said President Bashar Al Assad’s administration is prepared to take part in a unity government, incorporating elements from the opposition, an offer that has been rejected in the past by his opponents.
The interview comes amid spiralling violence in Syria, particularly around the contested city of Aleppo. According to opposition activists, more than 200 civilians have been killed in the past week under a sustained aerial campaign that UN envoy Staffan de Mistura called one of the worst of the war. The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency meeting but failed to take any action because of deep divisions between Russia and the Western powers. “What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism, it’s barbarism,” said US Ambassador Samantha Power. “It’s apocalyptic what is being done in eastern Aleppo.”
Al Moallem accused the US, Britain, and France of convening the Security Council meeting a day earlier in order to support “terrorists” inside Syria.
But he said ongoing communications between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meant a truce deal brokered two weeks ago is “not dead”.
Syria’s military declared the ceasefire ended one week ago.
The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said the ceasefire in Syria is ineffective, but that Moscow is not losing hope for a political solution to the country’s crisis.
However, Dmitry Peskov told reporters yesterday that the Kremlin is concerned that “terrorists are using the ceasefire regime to regroup, to replenish their arsenals and for obvious preparations to carry out attacks”.
Peskov also took issue with harsh criticism by the United States and Great Britain over Russia’s actions in Syria.
He said Russia considers the tone of the criticism unacceptable and “such rhetoric is capable of causing serious harm to the resolution process” in Syria.
Al Moallem’s comments came as a second group of rebel gunmen and their families began evacuating from an opposition neighbourhood in central Syria this month.