Syrian vice prez says no side can win war

Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa said that neither the forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor rebels seeking to overthrow him can win the war which is now being fought on the outskirts of Assad’s powerbase in Damascus.

Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad’s Alawite minority, has rarely been seen since the Syrian revolt erupted in March 2011 and is not part of the president’s inner circle directing the fight against Sunni rebels.

But he is the most prominent figure to say in public that Assad will not win. He was speaking to the pro-Assad al-Akhbar paper in an interview from Damascus which is now hemmed in by rebel fighters to the south.Assad’s forces have used jets and artillery to try to dislodge the fighters from around Damascus but the violence has crept into the heart of the capital and rebels announced on Sunday a new offensive in the central province of Hama.

Sharaa said the situation in Syria, where more than 40,000 people have been killed, was deteriorating and a “historic settlement” was needed to end the conflict, involving regional powers and the UN Security Council and the formation of a national unity government “with broad powers”.

“With every passing day the political and military solutions are becoming more distant...”

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