Syria Says No Dialogue Before It Crushes Rebels
The Syrian regime said Monday there will be no dialogue with the opposition before the army crushes the rebels, the latest sign that President Bashar Assad is determined to solve the crisis on the battlefield even if many more of his people have to pay with their lives.
The statement comes a day after activists reported that August was the bloodiest month since the uprising began in March 2011.
“There will be no dialogue with the opposition prior to the Syrian army’s imposition of security and stability in all parts of the country,” Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi told reporters at a news conference in Damascus.
The opposition has long rejected any talks with the regime until Assad is removed from power.
Muhieddine Lathkani, an opposition figure based in Britain, responded to the minister’s comments by saying “the key to any dialogue will be the departure of Assad and dismantling of the regime’s security agencies that committed all these crimes.”
Lathkani told The Associated Press by telephone that after that happens, there could be a dialogue.
Earlier in the day, the new U.N. envoy to Syria acknowledged that brokering an end to the civil war will be a “very, very difficult” task.
Activists on Sunday said some 5,000 people were killed in August, the highest toll in the 17-month-old uprising and more than three times the monthly average. At the same time, the U.N. children’s fund, UNICEF, said 1,600 were killed last week alone, also the highest figure for the entire revolt.
The two major activists groups raised their total death toll for the entire revolt to at least 23,000 and as high as 26,000.