Syrian opposition: ‘Assad must go, dead or alive’

Civil Defence members put out a fire that spread in an oil refinery in the town of Marat Numan in Idlib province, Syria March 10, 2016. (Reuters)

Fresh calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power were voiced by the opposition on Saturday, as peace talks loom to find a solution to the five years of civil war.

Chief opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush said Assad must go, dead or alive, if the peace to talks to be held in Geneva on Monday are to succeed.

"We believe that the transitional period should start with the fall, or death, of Bashar al-Assad," chief opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush told Agence France-Presse in an interview with another press agency in Geneva.

"It cannot start with the presence of the regime, or the head of this regime still in power."

The UN-brokered talks are the latest international push to end a conflict that has killed more than 270,000 people and forced half the country from their homes.

The United Nations is pushing for a transitional government and a new constitution to be put in place in six months. Legislative and presidential elections would be held next year.

The High Negotiations Committee opposition group has insisted the transitional government be given full executive powers, but the regime dismissed the idea outright ahead of the talks.

"We will not talk with anyone who wants to discuss the presidency... Bashar al-Assad is a red line," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told a Damascus news conference Saturday.

"If they (the HNC) continue with this approach, there's no reason for them to come to Geneva."

Fighting has eased since a landmark ceasefire between Syria's regime and rebels, bar some Islamist groups, took effect two weeks ago.

But Alloush accused the regime and its ally Russia of not abiding by the truce, which it said had been violated hundreds of times since it began on February 27.

"There have been more than 350 violations during the 14 days and that shows the regime violated the truce, or didn't commit to it," he said.

(With AFP)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46