Syria crisis: Minister says civil war has reached stalemate


The US and Russia still disagree on issues surrounding the Syria conflict

Syria's deputy prime minister says the civil war has reached stalemate, with neither side strong enough to win.

Qadri Jamil told the UK's Guardian newspaper that at proposed peace talks in Geneva, Damascus would call for a ceasefire with the armed opposition.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says Mr Jamil seems to be reflecting a drive by Russia to prepare for peace talks.

Meanwhile, the US has called on the UN Security Council to act over Syria's chemical weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry called on the council to pass a "binding resolution" when it meets next week.

'Neutral monitors'

Mr Jamil told the Guardian that the Syrian economy had suffered catastrophic losses in the civil war that began in early 2011.

More than 100,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the UN, and millions have fled the country or been made homeless.

Syria's chemical weapons

  • CIA believes Syria's arsenal can be "delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets"
  • Syria believed to possess mustard gas, sarin, and tried to develop VX gas
  • Syria has agreed to join Chemical Weapons Convention; it signed Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972 but never ratified

Sources: CSIS, RUSI

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said.

"This zero balance of forces will not change for a while."

Mr Jamil insisted that he was speaking for the government.

He said that if the long-delayed Geneva peace talks were revived, the government would propose a ceasefire monitored by troops from neutral or friendly countries.

This, he said, would pave the way for a peaceful political process, free from outside interference.

Nobody should fear, he added, that the regime in its current form would continue.

The BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says Mr Jamil's comments are bound to be dismissed by the Syrian opposition, which is deeply sceptical about talk of reform and democracy from government sources.

Mr Jamil is a former communist whose party took part in demonstrations against the government at the beginning of the uprising. He is not a hard-core Baath Party loyalist, our correspondent adds.

Behind the scenes in a chemical testing lab

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was ready to help broker peace in Syria as part of what he called his country's "constructive engagement" policy with other nations.

In an article in the Washington Post newspaper, Mr Rouhani wrote: "We must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates.

"As part of this, I announce my government's readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition."

Correspondents say the article is the latest signal that Mr Rouhani wants to improve Iran's relationship with the US and other countries that believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Fighting continues

On the ground in Syria, a ceasefire has been agreed between two different rebel groups in the northern town of Azaz, the BBC's Paul Wood reports.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), an al-Qaeda-linked rebel movement, seized the town on Wednesday from the larger and Western-backed Free Syrian Army.


Isis is reported to have made a number of arrests of activists, journalists and even Sharia court officials in the town.

The fighting between the two groups was the latest and most serious incident in what analysts say is becoming a war within a war.

Analysts say there is more chance that the US and other Western powers may arm the Free Syrian Army if it shows there is clear water between it and the Islamists.

Security Council call

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, is currently in Damascus where he has been meeting top officials and also leaders of the tolerated opposition.

Both Russia and the US say they want to build on their agreement concerning chemical weapons to revive the stalled peace process.

John Kerry says that the UN inspectors report "confirms that the Assad regime carried out a chemical attack"

But there are still many disagreements too.

Mr Kerry said a "definitive" UN report had proved that the Syrian government was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta on 21 August.

Damascus - backed by Moscow - insists that rebel forces carried out the attack.

The US threatened military strikes against Syria in response to the attack, but put them on hold after agreeing to a Russian plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

Syria has agreed to the disarmament plan unveiled by the US and Russia last weekend.

The West wants the deal enshrined in a UN resolution backed by the threat of military force, but Russia - Syria's ally - objects.

Mr Kerry said the UN Security Council must be willing to act when the UN General Assembly holds its annual meeting in New York next week.

"Now the test comes. The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Mr Kerry said.

Correspondents say the disarmament plan faces its first big test on Saturday with the one-week deadline for Syria to provide a list of its chemical weapons facilities.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with Fox News, said it could take about a year to destroy Syria's chemical stockpiles and could cost about $1bn (£623m).

The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    BBC News Guardian Quotes:

    Today Russian's Foreign Minister S.Lavrov met with UK counter part secretary of state William.Hague over Syria,talks went well discussing non military solution to the crisis.

    Also discussed Hague winter wonderland visit to Sochi with the UK Olympic team. Lavarov was assured Hagues,friendship with 25-year-old Christopher Myers was undeniably strictly purely professional.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    I think the US have decided that they are going to remove Assad and will find a reason to mount an attack.

    Syria is a Russian pawn in a game of chess, with Assad gone a pipe line from Qatar (worlds largest liquid gas supplier) will run to the Mediterranean coast ans supply the EU.

    The Russians don't want to lose gas revenue and bargaining power.

    The hydrocarbons must flow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Does anyone really believe this war will end here.
    Disband the UN, it is useless except for the partying and jobs for the boys.
    Better idea is move the HQ out of New York where they ALL love the nightlife, diplomatic status, mega expense accounts and into downtown Damascus. I wonder how many members representatives would agree to that? One Big Fat Zero.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    The worst thing UK did was create Saudi Arabia - it is they who are fomenting the rebellion in Syria, and it is their tune that US is dancing to, not that of Israel.
    The point with the UN is that it exists to deliver the policies of the 5 permanent members. Only if an action suits the interests of all 5 will it be taken, otherwise it will be veto and stalemate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    225.Jo Anton,,, Obama & Kerry have been caught out lying over Syria they both want war with Syria, they have made it quite clear Assad and his family dead even Saudi king want the US to take them out and Saudi king has offered to pay the full price of what the war will cost, This is on record in the US, Her the UK have censored this info from the people, Obama, Kerry, Susan Rice, Biden evil people

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    #230 Rational man

    On behalf of other non Jewish Poles who had much of their family murdered by the German army, not in battle but by Gestapo or Wermacht actions I thank you for your comment. I have nothing against the aforementioned peoples who also died but I know how many of my family were slaughtered yet ignored over more popular and better promoted incidents.

  • Comment number 233.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    The Problem chaps/ets, is that the UN gets fundings from all over the world, to step in and stop people's fightings.A neutral centre for leaders to come to an agreement. They are causing all the grief by standing back? Why is America doing something? If the UN is a failed option, then we the People's should have our say. Nobody wants war, just share and get along. Enjoy each's culture,freedom2move

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Is President Assad an idiot or does he just look like one?

    I'd always thought he just looked like an idiot, but when he was begging for money to decommission his Chemical weapons it is entirely possible he is a fully fledged idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    222 Matthew

    Out of the 60m killed in WW2, 35m were not disabled.

    The greatest acts of genocide were not committed against the jews, but the Russian people, Poles and Czechs. They have no 'special' mention.

    Disabled people in the West have more rights and privileges than able bodied people but what's that got to do with Syria?

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    If this is what it takes to bring the opposing parties to the conference table, then it cannot come soon enough. Sometimes, in conflict situations, adversaries have just to be left to exhaust themselves untilt they eventually decide to call it a day. It is all down to the leadership of each side. Fingers crossed there is now a glimmer of hope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    216. MagicKirin
    Well the Euopean left obviously learned nothing about appeasement or an honest media.
    Not sure what being opposed to bombing someone who is not proven (yet) to have committed the attack they are accused of committing has anything to do with appeasement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Why should Syria & Iran be taken down this is trash talking they have not threatened to invade the UK the UK public can see they are not no matter how the establishment elites spin it. Ditto US public. Al Quaeda are a threat though Woolwich & Boston this year. The populace of the West will take down the elites big time with any move towards war be warned warmongers

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    211.Total Mass Retain

    Maybe so, but so much of what humans learn is by destructive evolutionary experience & suffering which creates a deep sense of never wanting to return/experience what went before 1929/2008.

    Freedom is rarely achieved by non violence.

    Assads regime is not going to just surrender their power/control, stolen wealth & surrender themselves for war crimes justice

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    220. Political

    Yawn!! Try switching your brain on and play another tune.

    What do you mean by 'people like Kerry'? American perchance? That sounds like stereotyping to me. Not all Americans are the same. Obama certainly isn't! Please don't tar his administration with the same brush. Under Bush, Reagan or Nixon Syria would already have been bombed. Obama and Kerry are trying to avoid that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    If Syria and Iran aren't "taken down", in due course, I'll eat my hat. The only unknowns are the justification and the timing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    206 Dun Geonson - I always find it amusing that they get their info from YouTube. You know, owned by that massive US corporation known for spying on people. Yeah man, fight the system...

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    15 Million Disabled Murdered During WW2 just in Europe, the global figure is around 35 million, yet in 2013 the disabled still have no real rights.

    6 Million Jewish Murdered During WW2, Have loads of rights, huge financial, media and political lobby's.

    The US only interested in Oil and it's lobby system.

    Syrian civil war instigated to prevent peace & preserve the petro-dollar and Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    213. swerdna
    The nasty despot regimes in the Middle East may be evil by Western standards, but at least they are keeping the lid on something far worse

    "but weren't you part of that rather large group of HYS members that always blamed the US for propping up ME dictators?"


    219.Jo Anton
    Good point. Few are aware of the problems caused by the Treaty of Versailles

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    They sit in front of their computers in their cosy little house making cynical comments about peacemakers like Kerry who is trying to save the lives of men women and children who are dying through no fault of their own.

    It was people like Kerry who are responsible for ten times as many deaths of women and children currently in Syria. Iraq , Afghanistan, so not surprising the cynicism.


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