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Middle East

Syria minister: War is deadlocked

Deputy Prime Minister tells British newspaper neither Assad's forces nor the rebels are strong enough to win.

Last Modified: 20 Sep 2013 10:28
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Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jami says the Syrian economy had lost about $100bn during the war [AP]

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister has said that neither the government forces nor the rebels are currently capable of outright military victory in the country's civil war.

Qadri Jamil told the British Guardian newspaper that the government of President Bashar al-Assad would call for a ceasefire with the armed opposition if the peace talks in Geneva, sought by world powers, took place.

Rebels have been fighting government forces in a civil war which has claimed 100,000 lives since 2011. Rebel forces control large areas of the country while better-armed forces loyal to Assad retain Damascus and key army bases.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Jamil said in the interview, which was published on Friday.

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

The use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb on August 21 brought Washington close to ordering a strike against Assad, whom the West blames for the attack that the UN says killed 1,429 people.

'Stand up and speak out'

Earlier this week, however, Russia and the US agreed a deal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, averting a strike. The plan must now go the UN Security Council and win Syria's full compliance.

On Thursday, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, called on the Security Council to "stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons".

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

Envoys from the five big UN powers have been meeting in New York for several days to negotiate a draft resolution to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control.

US calls for quick Syria chemical weapons deal

Asked during the Guardian interview what proposals the Syrian government would bring to the proposed Geneva conference, Jamil said:"An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way."

The Guardian quoted Jamil as saying the Syrian economy had lost about $100bn, equivalent to two years of normal production, during the war.

Jamil, a veteran communist with a doctorate from Moscow state university, holds the post of deputy prime minister for economic affairs and minister of international trade and consumer protection.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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