Foreign support for rebels must end, Assad says
DAMASCUS — Syrian President Bashar Assad told the Arab League-U.N. envoy on Wednesday that foreign support for the armed opposition must end if any political solution to the country's conflict is to succeed, state-run media said.
Assad's comments to Lakhdar Brahimi during their meeting in Damascus cast further doubt on already sputtering efforts to convene an international peace conference to try to end the country's civil war.
The United States, Russia and the United Nations have been trying for months to bring the Syrian government and the opposition together to attempt to negotiate a political resolution to the conflict.
After repeated delays, efforts renewed in earnest last month to organize the conference, but the Syrian opposition remains deeply divided over whether to attend, while the government refuses to sit down with the armed opposition.
Brahimi's trip to Damascus was the latest stop on a regional tour in recent days as he tries to lay the groundwork for peace talks in Geneva that are tentatively planned for next month. But Assad, whose government has regained momentum in recent months in the conflict, showed little sign of inching toward compromise.
“For any political solution to be successful, it is crucial to halt support for terrorist groups and the countries that sponsor them, facilitate the entry of terrorist mercenaries and offer them money, weapons and logistical support,” Assad was quoted by Al-Ikhbariya television as telling Brahimi. “The Syrian people alone are entitled to draw the future of Syria. Any solution must be approved by them and reflect their wishes away from any foreign intervention.”