White House: Assad role in unity a 'non-starter'

White House says Syrian President should not be part of any transitional unity government.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

The White House on Wednesday indicated that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad should not be part of any transitional unity government, echoing views from regime opponents inside the war-shattered country.

Responding to an interview in which Assad argued his regime should take part in a transitional government, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Assad's own participation would be a "non-starter."

"I don't know whether he envisioned himself being a part of that national unity government. Obviously that would be a non-starter for us," stressed Earnest.

A row over Assad's fate has helped paralyze diplomatic efforts to end the country's brutal five-year conflict.

Assad told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Wednesday that it would be "logical for there to be independent forces, opposition forces and forces loyal to the government represented" in the new authorities.

But he pushed back against opposition demands that it should be put in place without his participation, insisting that the transitional body they are calling for is "illogical and unconstitutional".

"Neither in the Syrian constitution nor in the constitution of any other country in the world is there anything that could be called a transitional body of power," Assad said.

The main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has made Assad's departure a non-negotiable demand before any peace deal can be agreed and, in fact, insisted he must step down “dead or alive”.

The Syrian regime has completely rejected that notion and has refused to even discuss Assad’s fate at peace talks in Geneva, saying Assad's future "is something that is already excluded from the scene".

AFP contributed to this report.