Syrian VP says neither side can win war: newspaper

Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:54pm EST
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By Mariam Karouny

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa has told a Lebanese newspaper that neither the forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor rebels can win the war in Syria.

Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad's Alawite minority, has rarely appeared in public since the revolt erupted in March 2011.

The newspaper, al-Akhbar, released only limited excerpts on Sunday from the interview appearing in Monday's edition, and it was far from clear that Sharaa's comments represented the view of the government.

But he is still the most prominent figure to say in public that the crackdown will not win. The paper, which generally takes a pro-Assad line, said Sharaa had been speaking in Damascus.

In the first phase of the 21-month-old civil war, which has claimed at least 40,000 lives, Damascus was distant from the fighting.

Rebels have now brought the war to the capital, without succeeding in delivering a fatal blow to the government.

But nor has Assad found the military muscle to oust his opponents from the city.

In Paris, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, one of the major powers most insistent that Assad has lost his legitimacy, told RFI radio: "I think the end is nearing for Bashar al-Assad."   Continued...

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Binsh, near Idlib December 14, 2012. The banner in the centre reads: "Our leader forever Prophet Muhammad". REUTERS/Hamzeh Al-Binishi/Shaam News Network/Handout