Assad in rare public appearance for Eid prayers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Syrian president Bashar Assad should play a role in any talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war. “Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia”, Merkel told a press conference in Brussels.

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On Monday, French President Francois Hollande said French military sorties in Syria would soon expand to include airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The war in Syria began in 2011 and has killed more than 240,000 people and displaced millions.

Among the issues is what will happen to Assad, with many nations believing he has to be deposed if the country is to have a better future. “We started reconnaissance flights [in Syria] to enable us to consider air strikes if they were necessary and they will be necessary in Syria”.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that reaching a settlement of the Syrian crisis would not necessarily require Assad’s resignation, although he stressed that Assad still had to step down sooner or later, as reported by AFP.

Highlighting the Syrian government’s alleged war crimes, which were outlined in an Amnesty global report published in May, Mr Kurz: “We need a pragmatic common approach in this respect including the involvement of Assad in the fight against Islamic State terror”.

But Russian Federation backed and continues to back Assad as a bulwark against what it sees as a terrorist threat worsened by Western bungling.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday that Russia’s expanding military buildup in Syria could “pour gasoline on the [Islamic State] phenomenon”, because Moscow is bent on backing the embattled Syrian president – one of the extremist group’s top enemies.

Even though the resulting protests and worldwide pressure forced a formal Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, wishful thinking prompted Western leaders to try and rehabilitate Assad, turning a blind eye to his repressive and mafia-style business practices, on which his regime is based.

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If you speak to the representatives, who took part in talks in Geneva and Montreux, they often say that the Syrian regime has torpedoed all progress because Assad himself and his people have no reason to talk about a change of power as they still have enough global support – mainly from Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, who fight on Assad’s side. Russian Federation has built up its own military presence, including heavy equipment, fuelling fears that its support of Assad may help prolong the conflict. Likewise, allowing Assad to remain and bolstering Iran through a lopsided nuclear deal has only encouraged Russian Federation to enter the picture.

Alain Jocard AFP | German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels