Bashar al-Assad: Quitting Not Up For Debate

Bashar al-Assad (L) has insisted he will remain in charge
Bashar al-Assad (L) has insisted he will remain in charge

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is quoted as saying he has no intention of quitting, and the issue is not up for discussion at peace talks.

“If we wanted to surrender we would have surrendered from the start,” Mr Assad told Russian MPs in Damascus, according to Interfax news agency.

The government, opposition groups and Western diplomats will attend peace talks in Switzerland from Wednesday.

More than 100,000 have been killed and millions displaced in Syria’s conflict.

However, the Syrian presidency later said the comments reported by Interfax were “inaccurate”, without giving further details.

Opposition groups have previously demanded the removal of Mr Assad as a condition of any discussions on a possible transitional government.

But the Syrian National Coalition, the exiled opposition body, announced on Saturday that it would attend the talks.

The decision was praised by the US which, with Russia and the UN, is taking a leading role in organising the negotiations.

The path to the talks began in May last year when US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov agreed to try to bring both sides together.

BBC

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