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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 20 September, 2014

Syria VP says neither side can win outright

His comments came as the regime launched air strikes against a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

The body of a Syrian Army soldier after heavy clashes with government forces.
The body of a Syrian Army soldier after heavy clashes with government forces.
Image: (AP Photo / Manu Brabo)

SYRIAN VICE PRESIDENT Faruq al-Sharaa said that neither his government or the rebels can win a decisive victory in the 21-month conflict.

His comments came as the regime launched air strikes for the first time against a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, drawing condemnation from both Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the Hamas rulers of Gaza.

“No opposition can end the battle militarily, just as the security forces and army cannot achieve a decisive conclusion,” Sharaa told the pro-Damascus Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

“Every day that passes, we are moving further away from a military or political solution, ” said Shara, who is the most prominent Sunni Muslim in the Alawite minority dominated regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Opposition forces

“We must position ourselves to defend Syria’s existence — we are not in a battle for an individual or a regime.

“The various opposition forces — whether armed or civilian, or linked to foreign powers — cannot claim they are the sole legitimate representatives of the Syrian people,” he added, referring to the decision of Arab and Western governments last week to recognise the armed opposition.

He called for confidence-building measures between the warring parties and said that “the solution must be Syrian, but through a historic settlement including key regional countries and (UN) Security Council member states.”

“This accord must first bring about an end to all forms of violence and establish a national unity government with broad powers,” he added.

Sharaa, 74, has served the regime for decades, both under Assad and under his father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad, but has been seen in public only a few times since the uprising erupted in March last year.

In October, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested that the vice president would be a suitable pick to lead a transition government, calling him “a man of reason” who could stop the civil war in the country.

The government air strikes against the Yarmuk refugee camp came as the army stepped up an offensive against rebel fighters across the south of Damascus.

Eight civilians dead

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they killed at least eight civilians.

Residents told AFP that a missile hit the Abdel Qader Husseini Mosque in the heart of the camp.

The mosque was acting as a makeshift shelter for some 600 people forced to flee their homes in nearby districts engulfed in violence.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the bombing of refugee camps “must be stopped immediately.”

The Islamist Hamas movement also condemned the air strike, calling it a “crime.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius described the strike as a “scandalous attack” and accused Assad wanting to “inflame the situation”.

On the outskirts of second city Aleppo, the army withdrew from a key infantry academy after rebels seized most of the complex on Saturday, the Observatory said.

The pro-government daily Al-Watan reported: “The army staged a tactical withdrawal, waiting for reinforcements to arrive.”

Nationwide, at least 127 people were killed on Sunday — 73 civilians, 30 soldiers and 24 rebels, the Observatory said.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Syrian rebels claim capture of infantry base in Aleppo >

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