Assad ‘cannot be part of deal’

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iol pic wld syria -conflict -govt AFP A handout picture released by the official SANA on February 12, 2013, shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad heading a cabinet meeting in the Presidential palace in Damascus.

Cairo - The opposition Syrian National Coalition is willing to negotiate a peace deal to end the country's civil war but President Bashar al-Assad cannot be a party to any settlement, a communiqué drafted for an opposition meeting says.

The communique, seen by Reuters, omitted a direct demand for Assad's removal, in a softening of tone from past positions that insisted the president must go before there could be any talks.

The document, to be debated at a meeting of the opposition alliance's leadership starting in Cairo on Thursday, said Assad and his cohorts must be held accountable for bloodshed and that any peace deal must be under the auspices of the United States and Russia.

“Bashar al-Assad and the military and security apparatus commands are responsible for the decisions that have led the country to what it is now are outside the political process and are not part of any political solution in Syria,” the document said.

“They have to be held accountable for the crimes they have committed.”

The initiative comes from coalition president Moaz Alkhatib, a cleric from Damascus, who played a role in the peaceful protest movement against Assad at the beginning of the uprising almost two years ago. - Reuters


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