France demands assurances Assad will leave power

'There must be safeguards regarding the exit of Bashar al-Assad,' the Frech FM told the U.N. Security Council

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French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Friday demanded that talks on Syria’s future yield assurances that President Bashar al-Assad will leave power.

“There must be safeguards regarding the exit of Bashar al-Assad,” Fabius told the U.N. Security Council after the adoption of a resolution endorsing a peace process.

The resolution calls for a ceasefire and peace talks to begin in early January, but it does not address the contentious issue of Assad’s future.

France, the United States and other Western powers hold Assad responsible for the killing of civilians during the nearly five-year war in Syria and accuse him of fomenting extremism that led to the rise of the ISIS group.

“How could somebody bring together a whole people when he has massacred so many?” Fabius asked.

As long as Assad remains in power, Fabius said, reconciliation between Syrians and the state will remain “unattainable.”

Iran, a key ally of Assad, will maintain its backing for the Syrian regime, a senior Iranian official said, after the council unanimously endorsed the plan.

“We will continue to give our support to Syria,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

Iran will also “support inter-Syrian dialogue” aimed at ending the conflict, he said in remarks carried Saturday by the official IRNA news agency.

Iran is the main backer of Assad’s government, and has provided financial and military support to pro-government forces fighting in Syria.

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