Nasrallah: Any Solution in Syria Must Include Assad
The head of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group said on Friday that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's re-election this week proves that any solution to the country's conflict "begins and ends" with the embattled leader.
"The elections proved that a political solution in Syria begins and ends with President Bashar Al-Assad," Hassan Nasrallah, a key ally of Assad's regime, was quoted by AFP as having said in a televised address.
Assad won a new seven-year term in the country's first multi-candidate presidential vote on June 3, taking nearly 90 percent in an election dismissed by the opposition and its international backers as a "farce."
The opposition says Assad's departure from office is a condition for any peace agreement, but Nasrallah dismissed that as a possibility.
"There is a president who has been elected by millions for a new seven-year term," he said, according to AFP.
"Those who want to work for a political solution must talk to him, negotiate with him and reach a solution with him," declared the Hezbollah leader, who has sent Hezbollah fighters to Syria to battle alongside Assad's regime.
He called for an end to bloodshed in Syria and for new negotiations, saying, "We call on combatants ... to move towards reconciliation and dialogue, looking for political exits to stop the bloodshed."
"This fighting will only increase destruction in your country and add to the bloodshed," he said, addressing the opposition.
"Everyone should recognize and acknowledge that war in Syria will not lead to others taking control of it."
Syria's conflict began in March 2011 with peaceful protests against Assad's rule and spiraled into a bloody war that has killed more than 162,000 people.
Nasrallah said Assad's re-election was a "political and popular declaration of the failure of war," and said a solution to the conflict required an "end to the support of extremist groups in Syria."
Syria's opposition is backed by much of the international community, while Assad's government is supported by Hezbollah and its backer Iran, as well as Russia.
As a result of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war, its strongholds in Lebanon have been the targets of repeated attacks. Nevertheless, Nasrallah has promised that his group will be wherever is needed in Syria.
On Friday, he declared the presidential vote in Syria to be the "fruit of military victories and the blood of martyrs."
He also hit back at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who described the elections as "a great big zero."
"These are elections of millions, not elections of zero, as some have described it," Nasrallah said, according to AFP.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)