US urges UN action, Syria sees stalemate

2013-09-20 12:09
(Saul Loeb, AFP)

(Saul Loeb, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The United States called on Thursday for a binding UN resolution on Syria's chemical weapons next week, as a senior Syrian official said the country's conflict has reached a stalemate.

A "definitive" UN report has proved that the Syrian government was behind an August chemical weapons attack, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

"Now the test comes. The [UN] Security Council must be prepared to act next week. It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out," he added.

Syria's deputy premier, meanwhile, said Damascus believes the conflict has reached a stalemate and would call for a ceasefire if long-delayed peace talks in Geneva were to take place.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Qadri Jamil told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

When asked what his government would propose at the stalled Geneva-2 summit, he replied: "An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process".

Confident but not 100%

Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an interview on Wednesday with US television network Fox News, insisted his country was the victim of infiltration by foreign-backed al-Qaeda fighters.

"What we have is not civil war. What we have is war. It's a new kind of war," he said, alleging that Islamist guerrillas from more than 80 countries had joined the fight.

The president's television appearance came as UN envoys debated a draft resolution that would enshrine a joint US-Russian plan to secure and neutralise his banned chemical weapons.

Assad insisted in the interview that his forces had not been behind a 21 August gas attack on the Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds of civilians, but vowed nevertheless to hand over his deadly arsenal.

After last month's barrage of sarin-loaded rockets, which the West says was clearly launched by the government, US President Barack Obama moved to the brink of punitive military strikes.

However, military action was put on hold after an agreement between the United States and Russia aimed at neutralising Syria's chemical stockpile.

That plan will face its first big test on Saturday, the one-week deadline announced by Moscow and the United States for Assad to provide a list of his chemical facilities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was confident but not 100% sure that Syria would carry out its commitments.

"Will we manage to carry it through? I can't say 100%, but all that we have seen recently, in the last few days, inspires confidence that it is possible and that it will be done," Putin said at a meeting in the Novgorod region.

‘Controlled’ weapons dispatch

Meanwhile, Kerry urged China to play a "positive, constructive" role at the United Nations on the planned resolution.

He acknowledged at the start of talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the two sides have "disagreed sharply" over the Syrian conflict.

But Wang said he was ready for "in-depth" talks on all issues, including Syria, "with an open mind".

In a separate development on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani offered to broker dialogue between the warring Syrian factions.

"I announce my government's readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition," Rowhani wrote in a column for The Washington Post.

Away from the diplomatic front, fighters allied to al-Qaeda tightened their grip on Thursday on a town on the border with Turkey.

And a bomb attack on a bus in the central province of Homs killed 14 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding to the more than 110 000 casualties of the 30-month conflict.

Residents said members of al-Qaeda front group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) overran the border town of Azaz on Wednesday after an hours-long fire fight with Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels.

Residents reached by Skype said Isis men controlled all the checkpoints in the town and that FSA fighters appeared to have left.

Azaz, on the Turkish border, was one of the first towns to be overrun, in July 2012, by FSA rebels, who set up their own administration.

Tensions between some opposition groups and ISIS have spiralled in recent months, especially in northern Syria, where the opposition controls vast swathes of territory.

French President Francois Hollande meanwhile said France was in favour of sending weapons to the FSA, but only "in a controlled environment" and "with a number of countries".

Speaking in the Malian capital Bamako, Hollande said: "The Russians regularly send [weapons] but we will do it in a broader context, with a number of countries and a framework which can be controlled, because we cannot have a situation where weapons end up with Islamists."

Read more on:    un  |  al-qaeda  |  isis  |  vladimir putin  |  john kerry  |  hassan rouhani  |  bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.