Saudi Arabia, France agree Qusayr scenario can’t be repeated in Aleppo

Syrian residents collect their belongings in Qusayr June 8, 2013. (Reuters)

France and Saudi Arabia agreed during a meeting in Paris that the Hezbollah-backed Syrian troops, which defeated the rebels in the strategic town of Qusayr, should not be allowed to repeat the same scenario in province of Aleppo, Al Arabiya correspondent reported Tuesday.

The two countries expressed their stance after Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and the kingdom’s intelligence head, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, met with French officials.

While both countries established the need for international measures to help stave off a repeat of the Qusayr battle, France said an international consensus is required before any military operation can take place.

After their talks, France noted that the Syrian conflict reached a “turning point” after the Syrian regime declared victory against opposition fighters in Qusayr.

France’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot said weakening the rebels will make it more difficult to bring them to the negotiating table with representatives from Assad’s government, according to Reuters.

Russia and the United States plan to hold the ‘Geneva 2’ conference, which could take place from June 15-16. It will bring Syrian regime and opposition officials together for dialogue.

“With the fall of Qusayr, we are seeing a dramatic development,” Reuters reported him as saying.

“It’s even more worrying given that Aleppo is being announced as the next target of the regime and its allies ... We are at a turning point in the Syrian war.”

Opposition media on Tuesday reported clashes between the Free Syrian Army and Syrian regime troops backed by Hezbollah in Aleppo. Fighters from Hezbollah -- supported by Iran -- publicly led a 17-day assault on Qusayr.

Soon after the fall of Qusayr, George Sabra acting head of the opposition main group, Syrian National Council, sounded the alarm over what he described as the “Iranian invasion” on Syria.

Sabra urged the Arab League and West to act and get rid Syria of the “invaders.” The Syrian regime has received backing from Hezbollah as well as Iran.

“There are consequences to be drawn from what happened in Qusayr and what’s happening in Aleppo. The first consequence is to strengthen the ties with the coalition, and the question we’re asked is whether to go one step further and deliver weapons,” Lalliot said.

The lifting of a European Union embargo on arms deliveries to Syria, and rapid changes on the battlefield, meant that “talks and thinking” were now needed on the issue, he added.

“We cannot leave the opposition in the situation in which it finds itself.”

Having an international consensus to agree on a military solution has long been hard with some observers calling it almost “impossible.” Both China and Russia have vetoed off UN Security Council resolutions deemed as against the Syrian government.

While President Vladimir Putin signaled some change on Tuesday regarding Russia stance on Syria, he also expressed suspicion of Western countries trying to promote democracy in the region.

Putin said that Assad could have avoided the conflict in Syria by implementing reforms demanded by his people. “The country was ripe for serious changes, and the leadership should’ve felt that in time and started making changes. Then what’s happening wouldn’t have happened,” Putin told English-language state TV Russia Today.

However, he also blamed “certain people from outside” – in reference to the Western countries –who “think that if you shape the whole region under the same style, which some people like and some call democracy, then there will be peace and order. That isn’t so at all.”

Russia was not acting as an advocate for Assad, he added.

Moscow has constantly criticized the West for showing support to the opposition and fears it will start aiding the Syrian rebels with lethal weapons.

On Monday, a US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the White House is considering arming the Syrian rebels and a decision will materialize this week.

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Last Update: 06:40 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40
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