Syria Opposition Chief Urges Assad to Hold Talks
Syria's opposition chief on Monday urged President Bashar al-Assad's regime to respond positively to his call for talks to end almost two years of violence which has left more than 60,000 people dead, AFP reported.
"The ball is now in the regime's court. They will either say yes or no," Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib told pan-Arab channel Al-Jazeera, following up on his surprise announcement last week that he was ready for dialogue with the Damascus regime -- subject to conditions, including the release of 160,000 detainees.
Assad last month announced he was ready for talks with the opposition but ruled out meeting groups -- such as Khatib's National Coalition -- which back armed rebels seeking to overthrow the Damascus regime.
For its part, opposition groups, including the National Coalition, have in the past demanded Assad step down before peace talks can begin, the report said.
"Doctor Bashar, this country is in grave danger, come out of your bubble, if only for a moment. Look into the eyes of your children and you will recover some of your humanity," Khatib said, addressing Assad by the term adopted by state media and his supporters.
"We can help each other in the interest" of the people, Khatib said. "The regime needs to take a clear position. We will extend our hands for the sake of the people, and in order to help the regime leave in peace," he said.
On the ground in Syria, fierce battles raged in flashpoints across the country on Monday, including Aleppo and Raqa in the north, as well as in Damascus province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Army warplanes also bombarded Kafraya in the flashpoint city of Homs, the Britain-based watchdog added.