Geneva, AFP, 31 March 20 17 - The Syrian opposition to the Damascus regime said Thursday it rejected “any role” now or in the future for current President Bashar al-Assad, even though the United States now says Assad’s departure is no longer a priority to end the conflict.
“The opposition will never accept any role for Bashar al-Assad at any phase... there will be no change in our position,” said Monzer Makhos, a spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee, composed of key Syrian opposition groups in Geneva.
On Thursday the US ambassador to the United Nations in New York said the new administration of President Donald Trump is no longer focused on ousting Assad. “You pick and choose your battles,” Nikki Haley told reporters.
Haley said the US would focus on the push for a political solution to the conflict. Another spokeswoman for the Syrian opposition, Farah Atassi, expressed the need for Washington to play a “more decisive role” in the negotiations.
“We want the United States to return to play its main political role in dealing with the Syrian file and (are) looking forward to a new beginning with this (Trump) administration,” she said, adding that there was a need “correct the disastrous mistakes” of the previous administration of former president Barack Obama.
“We would like the US administration to understand the Syrian cause... more than just tackling the issue of fighting ISIS,” she said, referring to ISIS waging war in Syria and Iraq.
UN: Syrians trapped in besieged areas
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians trapped in besieged areas are facing “severe and horrific threats” and the last months of the war have been some of the worst for civilians, the UN humanitarian chief said Thursday. “For Syria, that is saying something,” Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council.
He said military operations and the continuing use of explosive weapons in populated towns and villages in Hama, Damascus, Idlib, Aleppo, Daraa, Raqqa and Deir el-Zour governorates “have killed and injured hundreds of civilians over the past weeks and displaced tens of thousands more.”
Throughout Syria, O’Brien said, “some 13.5 million people will try to go to sleep tonight in dire need of assistance, (and) the scale and severity of humanitarian needs show no sign of dissipating.” He had hoped that 2017 would see “a step change” in the delivery of aid, but O’Brien said access is no better than it was at this time last year.