Syrian conflict: Only reversals on the battlefield will bring opposition to negotiating table

While President Assad, buoyed by a recent win in Homs, has praised his soldier's bravery in the face of 'the fiercest barbaric war in modern history'

Beirut

The Syrian opposition has backtracked on the possibility of talks, saying its fortunes on the battlefield would need to reverse to come to the negotiating table. Ahmad al-Jarba, the head of the Syrian National Council, told the Qatar News Agency that talks were impossible in the current military climate. He also scoffed at the idea of engagement with president Bashar al-Assad or “his clique”, saying their absence should be a given for “any coming political negotiation.”

The comments stand in stark contrast to earlier statements, which merely asked for a clear timeframe and reassurances such as a release of prisoners. Just a few days ago al-Jarba said he would be willing to enter talks with representatives of Assad without pre-conditions.

These remarks were badly received by other opposition members, who insisted Assad cannot be part of the discussion. They also want Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters to leave the country and justice for war crimes committed by the regime, which al-Jarba alluded to in his latest remarks.

But most of all, the opposition need a more favourable military situation. “Circumstances impose on us not to go unless the situation on the ground is in favour of the revolution,” said al-Jarba.  

President Assad has been gaining ground in recent weeks and today declared that his victory was certain. Buoyed by a recent win in Homs, he praised his soldier's bravery in the face of “the fiercest barbaric war in modern history.” Hours later, activists released a video showing a huge bomb exploding in an Alawite - the sect of the president - district of Homs.

“If we were not sure that we were going to win in Syria, we would not have the ability to resist and the ability to continue fighting for more than two years against the enemy,” a transcript of the remarks released by Syrian state media said. The occasion, the 68th anniversary of the Syrian military, also prompted the president's first visit outside the capital since March 2012. State media said the President was visiting Daraya a village south-west of Damascus that was recently recaptured from rebel hands at great cost. Pictures on the presidency's social media accounts saw him interacting with soldiers in fatigues with war ravaged buildings in the background.

The 28 month conflict has killed over 100,000 people and forced almost 2 million people to flee the country.

Recently, kidnapping has also been on the rise. Two hundred Kurdish civilians have been abducted by Islamic fighters in the countryside near Aleppo, according to the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The kidnapping occurred after members of the Islamist brigades Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) had taken over the town of Tal Eran and laid siege to nearby Tal Hassil. Circumstances of the kidnapping remain murky and the perpetrators have, so far, failed to release demands.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) put the figure at 350 and also reported a massacre of 50 Kurds at the hands of the Islamists. The party has been fighting against the, mostly foreign, Islamic fighters for two weeks. Other Kurdish sources claimed that ISIS had captured up to 400 fighters from the PKK, the armed wing of the PYD.

Deprived of many basic rights by the Syrian government, the Kurds have tried to keep both the Syrian Army and the rebels out of their areas. 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste