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Syrian VP: Neither Side Can Win Militarily

"Things will definitely go from bad to worse" in Syria, predicts the country's vice president.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/17/2012, 12:16 AM

Damaged mosque after Syrian air strike
Damaged mosque after Syrian air strike
Reuters

Neither side in the conflict in Syria can win using military methods, the country’s vice president has admitted.

In an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which will be published Monday and of which excerpts were released on Sunday, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa said that “with every passing day, the military and political solutions get further away.”

“The way events are heading will lead to an uncomfortable place where things will definitely go from bad to worse,” he told the newspaper.

Al-Sharaa added, “We must be in the position of defending Syria’s existence. We are not in a battle for the survival of an individual or a regime.”

“The opposition with its different factions, civilian, armed, or ones with external ties, cannot claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian People, just as the current rule with its ideological army and its confrontation parties lead by the Baath, cannot achieve change without new partners,” he said.

Al-Sharaa called for building confidence between the two sides and said, “The solution has to be Syrian, but through a historic settlement, which would include the main regional countries, and the member of UN Security Council. This settlement must include stopping all shapes of violence, and the creation of a national unity government with wide powers.”

“The drop in the number of peaceful protesters led one way or another to the rise in militants,” he claimed.

The Syrian Vice President added, “The opposition forces combined cannot decide the battle militarily, meanwhile what the security forces and the army units are doing will not reach a conclusive end.”

The comments came as fighting continued in Syria on Sunday. A mosque in the Palestinian neighborhood of Yarmouk in southern Damascus, that was sheltering some 600 refugees from neighboring districts, was attacked from the air and hit by at least one rocket. At least 25 people were killed in the strike.

The fighting has escalated and last week it was reported that Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebel fighters.

Putting further pressure on the Assad regime last week, Arab and Western states recognized the opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of Syrians.

Under pressure to unite, the opposition agreed on November 11 to establish the coalition and group the various rebel forces under a supreme military council.

But jihadist rebels in Aleppo, a key front line in northern Syria, rejected the agreement, saying they want an Islamic state.

Among them is the Al-Nusra Front, which the United States blacklisted on Tuesday as a terrorist organization, citing links to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Meanwhile, a top Russian official asserted last week that Assad's days are numbered, an unusual statement coming from one of Assad's long time allies.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s top envoy for Syria, said that recent events in Syria show that the government's grip on the fighting is slipping and that the rebels stand a real chance of defeating Assad.