Syrian opposition renews rejection for any future role for Assad

Published: Updated:

The main opposition Syrian National Coalition on Sunday has renewed its rejection of any future role for President Bashar al-Assad and other regime members who have “tainted their hands with blood.”

The group’s spokesman Khaled al-Saleh said in a press conference in Istanbul that while the coalition is committed to a “political solution,” it will not participate in the proposed peace talks in Geneva to end the 32-month Syrian conflict unless certain demands are met.

“The six principles [included in Geneva I that took place last year] are frames and not preconditions. They are needed to create a real political process [to form a transitional government] and this is what we are asking for. It includes ceasefire, the release of detainees and formation of a transitional government, and yes it mandates no role for Assad in any political process in Syria,” Saleh said.

He also highlighted what has been included in a declaration in London last month by the Friends of Syria pro-opposition alliance. The declaration has ruled out any role for the Syrian president in a transitional administration.

Meanwhile, he said his group’s stance regarding Iran is “very clear.”

Iran needs to “withdraw all of its militias,” including the departure of fighters hailing from the Lebanese Shiite guerilla group, Hezbollah, and from Iraq’s Abu Fadhl al-Abbas.

“If they do that, then we can discuss the Iranian attendance in Geneva II.”

‘Talking with rebels on Geneva’

The spokesman said his group, which is set to offer humanitarian help for people inside the “liberated” areas in Syria, is currently talking with rebels and civilians inside Syria before making any decisions on Geneva II.

Saleh said the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) “are on the same side and we are fighting a common enemy,” Agence France-Presse reported him as saying.

The goal, he said, was to have a unified position and “to enter any peace process in a united manner.”

“If we are going to be in Geneva, they are going to be part of that delegation. They have as much interest in a successful and free democratic Syria as we do.”

Sources told Reuters late on Saturday that the SNC wants approval from fighters inside the country first to give the process of entering the Geneva talks more legitimacy.

The sources said the SNC wants to seek the backing of rebel fighting units, community leaders and activists inside Syria for its participation in Geneva, to counter criticism that it is out of touch with those battling on the ground.

Major Islamist rebel brigades have declared their opposition to the Geneva process if the conference does not result in Assad’s removal and some have said they would charge anyone who attended the planned international talks with treason.

Meanwhile, Saleh has denounced the Assad regime’s policy of starving the Syrian people inside besieged areas in the capital of Damascus and the province of Homs.

He said the future transitional government would need $50 million a month - money could be funneled through internally from Syria’s oil revenues and crops sales, and from countries supporting the uprising against Damascus.

(With AFP and Reuters)