A Syrian family leaves its home in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor for safety yesterday.
DAMASCUS: The Syrian civil war has reached a stalemate and President Bashar Al Assad’s government will call for a ceasefire at a long-delayed conference in Geneva on the state’s future, the deputy prime minister has said in an interview with The Guardian.
Qadri Jamil said neither side was strong enough to win the conflict, which has lasted two years and caused the death of more than 100,000 people. Jamil, in charge of finances, said the Syrian economy had suffered catastrophic losses. “Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side,” he said. “This zero balance of forces will not change for a while.” He said the economy had lost about $100bn (£62bn), equivalent to two years of normal production, during the war.
If accepted by the armed opposition, a ceasefire would have to be kept “under international observation”, which could be provided by monitors or UN peacekeepers — as long as they came from neutral or friendly countries, he said.
Leaders of armed opposition have repeatedly refused to go to what is called Geneva Two unless Assad resigns. An earlier conference on Syria at Geneva lasted just one day in June last year and no Syrians attended.
Jamil’s comments are the first indication of the proposals that Syria will bring to the table at the summit, which Russia and the US have been trying to convene for months.
Asked about what proposals his government would make at Geneva, he said: “An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way.”
Meanwhile, Assad said it will take at least a year and $1bn for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, as Al Qaeda-linked fighters tightened their grip on a border town.